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3 1822 02468 7667 


And the Rise of the Christian 


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3 1822 02468 7667 

Social Sciences & Humanities Library 

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^PaonsiOB vs Pbihcbton Columi 







It is the purpose of this book to present a 
sketch" of Alcuin in his relations to education, 
with prefatory and supplementary matter suffi- 
cient to indicate his antecedents and also his 
connections with later times. The account given 
is based mainly on a study of Alcuin's writings, 
and attempts, so far as possible, to let Alcuin 
speak for himself, rather than to theorize about 
him. Such books about Alcuin and his pupils 
as have been found serviceable have also be^n 
freely consulted. In submission to the present 
custom of historical writers, and the authority of 
Shakspeare, I use the name Charles the Great in 
place of Charlemagne. 

Pkincbton Collbok, 
September, 1892. 




Lttroduotobt 1 


L The Sbvbn Libbsai. Abts . • • • 4 

XL Alcxtik the Scholab at Yobk ... 28 

m. Alottin the Masteb of the Falaob School 40 

rV. Alcuin the Abbat op Toubs . .64 

V. Alcuin's Educational Wbitings ... 89 

VL Alcuin's Chaeactbb 117 

Vn. Babantts Maubus and Alcuin's Othbb Pupils 124 

YIIL Alcuin's Lateb Influence . . • . 166 


Editions of Alouin 188 

Table of Dates ....■•• 193 

Books on Alcuin 197 

INDEX 199 






At the mid-point between ancient and modem 
history stands the commanding figure of Charles 
the Great. The centuries of the Middle Ages 
which precede him record the decadence and final 
extinction of ancient institutions, while the nearly 
equal number of centuries which follow up to the 
time of the Renaissance and Reformation record 
the preparation for modern history. Thus, as fin- 
isher of the old order of things and beginner of 
the new, he is the central secular personage in 
that vast stretch of time between antiquity and 
the modem world, which we call the Middle Ages. 

The fortunes of education during these fifteen 
centuries faU in well with the character of the 
periods which mark the successive phases of civili- 
zation in the West. Before Charles there are two 
periods, the one extending through the first four 
centuries of the Christian era and characterized by 
the decline of the imperial Roman schools of learn- 


1 ' : :• : \/ ALCUIN 

uig-and'the concurrent rise of Christianity ; and tlie 
other embracing nearly four centuries more, a time 
of confusion, of barbarian inroads, of the dying out 
of schools, and of prevalent intellectual darkness. 
Then begins, under Charles at the end of the eighth 
century, a third period, marked at its outset by the 
first general establishment of education in the Mid- 
dle Ages, an establishment lasting, however, but a 
generation or two, and falling into ruin as a new 
barbarism overran Europe. This period lasted well 
into the eleventh century, when a fourth and last 
medieval period began with a second restoration 
of learning under the influence of scholasticism, 
founding the universities, but itself finally decay- 
ing and coming to an end at the Renaissance, that 
third and final revival of learning which was so 
radical and powerful as to become the beginning 
of our modem age in education. 

These are the three revivals of learning in the 
West, each in turn stronger than its predecessor. 
But the first one under Charles and Alcuin, though 
the weakest, is yet of vital importance as a first 
stage in the evolution of modern education. Nar- 
row and technical as was the instruction given, 
and brief as was the duration of the institutions 
founded, it still remains true that Charles was the 
first monarch in the history of Europe, if not of the 
world, to attempt an establishment of universal 
gratuitous primary education as well as of higher 
schools. Moreover, as the result of Alcuin's organ- 
izing sagacity, a body of men devoted to teaohing 


as well as learning was created, giving some degree 
of continuity to education down to the founding of 
the universities and so sheltering studies in various 
monasteries and cathedrals that some of the greater 
schools thus kept alive, or offshoots from them, 
afterwards became natural receptacles for the new 
university life of the next age. 



The seven liberal arts which embraced the studies 
constituting the curriculum of school education in 
the Middle Ages were an inheritance from classical 
antiquity. Their origin is to be sought in Greek 
education. Thus Aristotle in his Politics^ defines 
"the liberal sciences" (eXevdepioi eirur-njfuu) as the 
proper subjects of instruction for free men who 
aspire not after what is immediately practical or 
useful, but after intellectual and moral excellence 
in general, and mentions several of these studies 
separately. By his time the educational doctrine of 
the Greeks had become highly developed and exhib- 
ited the ideals towards which the best Greek minds 
endeavored to direct their educational practice. 
We are not to suppose that by the terms " liberal 
arts," "liberal studies " and "liberal sciences " they 
meant either the whole of human knowledge or even 
the whole of liberal culture, for although the terms 
are not always employed in a uniform sense, yet they 
have a proper sense which must be held clearly in 
mind, if we would avoid confusion. Their proper 
meaning is this, — the circle of disciplinary school 

1 Vlll, 1. For a full notice of the liberal arts in Greek 
writers see the Appendix to Davidson's Aristotle in this seriei. 


studies which minister to the general education of 
youth, preparatory to the higher liberal studies, 
which are compendiously called philosophy. The 
distinction between the liberal arts and philosophy 
thus contains in germ the distinction between what 
we now mean by gymnasial and university educa- 
tion. It is of course true that the liberal arts were 
not always spoken of consistently, and that the 
practice of Greek writers may be compared in gen- 
eral with the varying modern use of the word " edu- 
cation," but it is no less true that to the Greeks 
the liberal arts primarily meant the circle of school 
studies. In fact they are often identical with school 
education itself, so that the saying of Pythagoras, 
" Education must come before philosophy," ^ meant 
to the Greeks that training in the liberal arts must 
precede the higher culture. Philosophy also, as 
the goal of the earlier studies, is not infrequently 
styled a liberal art, sometimes the only truly 
liberal art. Thus Aristotle affirms, "It alone of 
the sciences is liberal, because it exists solely for 
its own sake and is not to be pursued for any 
extraneous advantage." * 

The studies which came to be regarded as liberal 
arts were grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, music, arith- 
metic, geometry, and astronomy. It is not clearly 
known when each of these began to be considered 
as a school study, or how many of them were 
commonly so pursued, or that they were the only 

1 Hpo <j>iKo<TO<t)iai waiStia, BtobaBU8| Serftl. XT J. 

s Metaphysig?, I, 2, 


liberal arts. The Greeks did not formulate an 
unalterably fixed body of studies, seven in num- 
ber. No list of seven arts nor any mention of seven 
as the number of the liberal arts is to be found in 
the Greek writers. However, there was an order 
in which they were pursued, and the first three, 
grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics, were preparatory 
studies which were generally pursued in the order 
stated. The other four disciplines usually came 
later, and it is probable that only a portion of those 
who had completed their grammar, rhetoric, and 
dialectics passed on to the music, arithmetic, geom- 
etry, and astronomy, and that only a portion of 
those who so passed onward studied all the four 
latter arts. It is clear, however, that the Greeks 
came to consider acquaintance with the liberal 
arts as a general education, and the only general 

By the time of Cicero (b.c. 106-^3) the artes 
Uberales had passed over to Eome and become the 
groundwork of the education of the Roman liber 
homo, or gentleman. Cicero's references to the arts 
are abundant and instructive, furnishing as they 
do ample evidence of the familiarity of educated 
Romans of the late Republic with the studies 
of the Greeks. But it was not the writings of 
Cicero that saved the liberal arts for the Middle 
Ages. For this we must look to the monumental 
work, now lost, of his learned contemporary Varro 
(b.c. 116-27). It is fortunate indeed that such a 
writer, in his Libri Novem Disdplinarum, gave a 


full account of the arts which had passed over from 
Greek into Eoman education. His list of "disci- 
plines," as worked out by Eitschl,^ is the following : 
grammar, dialectics, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, 
astrology, music, medicine, architecture. Astrol- 
ogy of course answers to astronomy, and the first 
seven studies in his list are consequently the well- 

1 Opuscula, in, 371. 

Boissier in his Etude sur la Vie et les Ouvrages de M. T. 
Varron argues against the certainty of Ritschl's identification 
of the " nine disciplines," holding that only six are clearly made 

In his treatise on the Libri Novem Disdplinarum of Varro, 
now published in the third volume of his Opuscula, Ritschl 
gathered and co-ordinated with marvelous acuteness the many 
scattered fragment and ancient notices connected with Varro's 
work, and concludes: that he had identified each one of the " nine 
disciplines " with reasonable certainty and their order of presen- 
tation in Varro with a fair degree of probability. Boissier saya 
Ritschl afterwards doubted whether he had sustained his identi- 
fication of all the nine with sufficient proof. I have been unable 
to find the passage where Ritschl avows such a change of con- 

Fortunately, it is not necessary to re-examine Ritschl's elabo- 
rate array of evidence in order to find out what Varro's " nine 
disciplines" were, since there is at hand a simple piece of proof 
which covers the whole case. The account of the arts in Mar- 
tianus Capella's De Nuptiis PhilologisB et Mercuria is demon- 
strably a popularized account of the studies described in Varro's 
Libri Novem Disciplinarum. Varro's work dealt with nine 
studies, one for each of his nine books. Martianus likewise 
has but nine studies, and these are precisely the nine worked 
out by Ritschl as Varro's " nine disciplines." 

But even if only six on Ritschl's list were proved to belong to 
Varro's nine, yet, since these six are likewise six of the nine of 
Martianus, the presumption that the unidentified three of Varro 
would match the remaining three of Martianus is very strong. 


known arts of the Greeks, but medicine and archi- 
tecture are added. It is very plain that Varro had 
not in mind any limitation of the arts to seven, 
and yet it would not be safe to assert he meant 
that all his "nine disciplines" were liberal arts. 
Perhaps he did, but more likely all he meant to 
represent by the " nine disciplines " was the studies 
generally, whether liberal or professional, which 
the Eomans had inherited from the Greeks. 

Passing on to the time of the early Empire, we 
may trace the course of the liberal arts in the writ- 
ings of the younger Seneca (b.c. 8-a.d. 65) and 
Quintilian (a.d. 35-96), both of whom were well 
acquainted with the writings of Varro and refer to 
him as their authority. In Seneca's famous Epistle 
to I/ucilius ^ on liberal studies, five of the arts are 
enumerated and described in the following order : 
grammar, and then music, geometry, arithmetic, 
and astronomy. This, though incomplete, yet corre- 
sponds, so far as it goes, with Varro and the Greeks. 
It is also true that he recognizes in his very next 
letter^ the distinction between rhetoric and dialec- 
tics ; but it would be a mistake to suppose from this 
that he recognized these seven as all the liberal arts, 
or that he consciously recognized any unalterably 
fixed list. Indeed he speaks in another letter ' of 
medicine as a liberal art, and may have followed 

I JSpist. Morale Lib. Xm, Ep. Ill, 3-15. Ed. Haase, Leipsic, 

« Epist. Moral, Lib. XIV, Ep. I, 17. 
» fpiat. Moral., Lib. XV, Ep. lU, a 


Varro in doing so. Shortly after Seneca comes 
Quintilian, in whose writings the arts are more 
strictly co-ordinated as a complete course of school 
instruction. He speaks in his Institutes of Oratory 
of the departments of study which need to be pur- 
sued " in order that that circle of instruction, which 
the Greeks call cyKwAios iraihua, may be completed." ^ 
He also mentions as such studies grammar, rhetoric, 
music, and geometry, making the geometry include 
arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. These six 
might perhaps be regarded as really seven if we 
suppose that Quintilian combined dialectics with 
rhetoric, as was sometimes done ; but in any event it 
is clear that he, like Seneca, had not formulated an 
exclusive list of seven or any other number. Yet 
it is also clear that as with the Greeks, so with 
the Eomans, grammar remained the inevitable first 
study, with rhetoric and probably dialectics im- 
mediately following, and that the foiarfold division 
into arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy 
held its own as a natural distribution for the suc- 
ceeding studies. 

The Roman civilization, and with it the educa- 
tion established in the imperial schools, passed on 
to its decline, partly from interior moral decay, 
partly by external barbarian assault, and even 
more irrevocably through the supplanting power 
of the new ideals introduced by Christianity. We 
are chiefly concerned with the last of these, and 
more particularly here with the twofold attitude 

^ Institutio Oratoria, I, cap. 10, 1. Ritschl, Opuscula, III, 354. 


assumed by the early Church of the West towards 
the arts. The first position was one of antagonism. 
Thus Tertullian proscribes pagan learning as both 
ineffectual and immoral, — apparently a most harsh 
and indefensible judgment. But if we keep in 
view the utter vileness of a great number of the 
so-called professors or teachers of the arts in the 
time of the Empire, a fact easily proven from 
the writings of Seneca and Quintilian, and the gross 
immoralities of pagan religion which were a nat- 
ural development of so much of the mythology 
that tainted their literature, it will be seen that an 
antagonistic attitude to certain phases of pagan cul- 
ture was inevitable from the first on the part of the 
Church, and this might easily pass into a proscrip- 
tion of the liberal arts. "The patriarchs of phi- 
losophy," says Tertullian, "are the patriarchs of 
heresy." He also decries them as "hucksters of 
philosophy and rhetoric." Lactantius says, " They 
do not edify but destroy our lives," and even 
Augustine calls them " croaking frogs." " Refrain 
from all the writings of the heathen," is the lan- 
guage of the Apostolical Constitutions,^ " for what 
hast thou to do with strange discourses, laws, or 
false prophets, which in truth turn aside from the 
faith those who are weak in understanding ? For 
if thou wilt explore history, thou hast the Books 
of the Kings ; or seekest thou for words of wisdom 
and eloquence, thou hast the Prophets, Job, and 

1 Quoted and translated in Mulllnger's Schools of Charles tJU 


the Book of Proverbs, wherein thou shalt find a 
more perfect knowledge of all eloquence and wis- 
dom, for they are the voice of the Lord, the only 
wise God. Or dost thou long for tuneful strains, 
thou hast the Psalms ; or to explore the origin of 
things, thou hast the Book of Genesis ; or for cus- 
toms and observances, thou hast the excellent law 
of the Lord God. Wherefore abstain scrupulously 
from all strange and devilish books." Such is an 
authoritative utterance of the early church, so that 
we need feel no surprise at finding it echoed by her 
great doctors. Was it not Augustine who made 
famous the saying, Indocti cesium rapiunt, "It is 
the ignorant who take the kingdom of Heaven"; 
and did not Gregoiy the Great assert that he would 
blush to have Holy Scripture subjected to the rules 
of grammar ? 

But though antagonism was the first position of 
the Church, and a necessary position in her first 
encounter with paganism, there were influential 
voices raised on the other side, and this harsh opin- 
ion was gradually modified, so that by the fourth 
and fifth centuries it was superseded by a better 
view. The liberal arts and their sequel, the 
ancient philosophy, came to be regarded with 
qualified approval, and despite his other utter- 
ances which embody the earlier attitude of the 
Church, it was again the great Augustine (a.d. 
354-430), the literary as well as the theological 
leader of Western Christendom in his time, who 
was most influential in committing the Ghuich to 


a recognition of the arts and philosophy as suitable 
studies for the Christian. This was accomplished 
on the ground that they were useful — nay, even 
necessary, for the understanding of the Scriptures. 
His views are best set forth in his treatise. On 
Christian Instruction, which was completed in his 
seventy-second year, and may therefore be assumed 
to represent his final judgment. Nothing freer or 
more comprehensive has been said even under the 
light of later Christianity than the maxim he has 
there recorded, Quisquis bonus verusque Christianus 
est, Domini sui esse intelligat, ubicumque invenerit 
veritatem, " Let every good and true Christian know 
that truth is the truth of his Lord and Master, where- 
soever it be found." ^ Such words foreshadow the 
whole revolution in the ideals of education intro- 
duced by Christianity. In the same treatise he draws 
a beautiful though fanciful parallel between Israel 
and the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus, and the 
similar situation of the Christians of his time, emerg- 
ing from the spiritual bondage of paganism. " As 
the land of Egypt," he writes, " contained idols for 
Israel to abominate and grievous burdens for them 
to flee, yet there were also vessels and ornaments 
of gold and silver, which Israel going out of Egypt 
took with them to devote to a better use, not of 
their own right, but at the command of God, the 
Egyptians themselves unwittingly furnishing what 
they themselves had been putting to an evil use. 
So all the teachings of the heathen contain vain 
^ De Doctrina Christiana, U, cap. 17. 


and idolatrous inventions and grievous burdens ot 
unnecessary labor, and every one of us as we go 
out from heathendom, under Christ our Moses, 
ought to abominate the one and flee the other. 
Yet there are likewise the liberal disciplines, well 
suited to the service of the truth, and containing, 
moreover, very useful moral precepts and truths 
regarding the worship of the one true God. This 
is their gold and silver, which they have not 
created themselves, but have extracted from certain 
ores, as it were, of precious metal, wheresoever 
they found them scattered by the hand of divine 
providence. So, also, they have raiment, the hu- 
man institutions and customs wherewith they are 
clothed. These we need for our life here below, 
and should appropriate and turn them to a better 
use. For what else than this have many of the 
good and faithful done ? Behold how that most 
persuasive doctor and blessed martyr Cyprian came 
out of Egypt, laden with what great spoil of their 
gold and silver and raiment ! How much did not 
Lactantius take ! and Victorinus, and Optatus, and 
Hilary, not to speak of those now living or of the 
innumerable Greek fathers. Moses also, that most 
faithful servant of God, did so long ago, for is it 
not written that he was learned in all the wisdom 
of the Egyptians ? " ^ Spoil the Egyptians ! Take 
their gold and silver and raiment. Take all the 
truths of the pagan schools and use them in the 
service of Christ. Henceforth the Christian if 
^ De Doctrina Chr-utiana, II, cap. 40. 

14 ALCUm 

not shut up to rejecting or taking secular culture 
as a whole, but he is to select the best. A middle 
course, which is not a mere compromise, is thus 
opened up, avoiding the extreme of TertuUian in 
proscribing secular learning and the other later 
extreme of the Benaissance in taking all, whether 
base or excellent. 

Let us not be misled into supposing that Augus- 
tine thought the arts or philosophy were to be 
studied purely for their own sake. Not so, — for 
he reasons that if the spoil of Egypt taken by 
Israel was great, yet the treasures of Solomon in 
Jerusalem were far greater. Accordingly he writes : 
"As was the amount of gold and silver and raiment 
taken by Israel out of Egypt when compared with 
the treasures they amassed afterwards in Jerusalem, 
treasures at their greatest when Solomon was king, 
such is all knowledge, useful though it be, which 
is gathered from the books of the heathen, when 
compared with the knowledge of the divine Scrip- 
tures. For whatever man has spoken elsewhere, if 
it be harmful, it is here condemned ; if it be use- 
ful, it is herein contained."^ The Scriptures are 
the final test of the " harmful " and the " useful." 
They are even more, for they embrace whatever 
of human learning is useful. Inconsistent indeed 
is this position with Augustine's other statements 
and with his injunction to study the good things 
in the liberal arts, if it be true that these things 
are already in the Scriptures. It sounds like a 

1 J)e Doctrina Christiana, II, cap. 41 


late echo of Tertullian. But let it be remembered 
tbat Augustine represents in himself the history 
of the differing successive attitudes of the Church 
towards pagan culture, and that the general tenor 
of his writings is decidedly in favor of studying 
the arts and philosophy, though not solely or 
principally for themselves, but as ancillary to the 
supreme spiritual teachings of the Bible. 

Augustine's connections with the liberal arts are 
even more definite. He had himseK been a teacher 
of rhetoric before his conversion, and a writer on 
seven of the arts. The record of this, in his 
Retractations, which was written shortly before 
427, is of distinct importance, particularly from 
the fact that he was well acquainted with the writ- 
ings of Varro, to whom he frequently refers as his 
greatest authority. He states that while at 'Milan 
awaiting baptism, he endeavored to write Discvpli- 
narum lAhri (almost the title of Varro's old work), 
and that he finished only a book on grammar and 
part of another on music .^ After his baptism he re- 
turned to Africa and continued what he had begun 
at Milan. Besides the two treatises mentioned, he 
says that he wrote de oliis vero quinque discipUnis 
similiter inchoatis, that is, finished books he had 
begun upon five other disciplines, in addition to 
grammar and music. It has been held by many with 
Kitschl' that this means "on the other five disci- 
plines," and that Augustine consequently recognizes 

1 Retractationes, I, cap. 6. 

* OpwciUa Fhilologica, III, 364. 


seven as the total number of the liberal arts. But 
such cannot be proved from this passage, because 
it is possible that de aliis quinque disciplinis means 
"on five other disciplines." It is clear, however, 
that Augustine enumerates seven arts which he 
recognizes as liberal, and that he nowhere else 
recognizes more.^ His list is as follows : Gram- 
mar and music, as above stated, and besides them 
the following " five other disciplines " : dialec- 
tics, rhetoric, geometry, arithmetic, and philoso- 
phy. Elsewhere^ he speaks of pursuing memo- 
ratum discipUnarum ordinem, a previously cited 
"order of the disciplines," and in still another 
passage' of having studied in his youth omnes 
libros artium quas liberales vacant, " all the books 
of the so-called liberal arts." Taking all his 
stateihents in one view it becomes plain that 
Augustine listed only seven liberal arts, and that 
he refers to a fixed order among them and to his 
acquaintance with each one. His list is remark- 
able in one respect, for astronomy is lacking and 
in its place we find philosophy, a substitution appar- 
ently due to Augustine's deep abhorrence of astrol- 

1 Nor does he seem to recognize less than seven in any gen- 
eral account of the arts. It is true that in another work {De 
Ordine, lib. II), when giving a general description though not 
making out a formal list, he names only six, — grammar, rhet- 
oric, dialectics, music, geometry, astronomy. But he describes 
seven, for he treats of arithmetic, or "numbers," under the 
geometry. Thus in this account he deals with the same disci- 
plines as in the Retractations, except that his favorite philoso- 
phy is replaced by the traditional astronomy. 

*J)e Ordine, II, 16. « Con/essiones, IV, cap. 16, 30. 


ogy as an impious art and his love for philosophy, 
which he puts in its place as the last and presum- 
ably the highest study. 

But why should Augustine have only seven arts 
in his list ? Certainly not by accident. He exer- 
cised some choice in the matter, as appears from 
his substituting philosophy for astronomy. Varro 
had written on nine disciplines, and though Augus- 
tine refers to him repeatedly as an authority, he 
does not adhere to Varro's number. The point is 
obscure. It may be Augustine knew of the seven 
arts in Martianus Capella's book, or that, though 
the arts were settling down to a body of seven by 
his time,^ the limitation to seven was not definitely 
before his mind. The important point, however, in 
connection with Augustine, is not the number of 
the arts. 

His position and influence may now be summar- 
ized with clearness. His settled view, attained after 
long meditation, was one of favorable regard toward 
the arts, principally because they ministered to 
the better understanding of distinctively Christian 
truths. Expressions of a different tenor are indeed 
to be found here and there in his writings. At one 
time he seems to go back to the idea that secular 
studies are useless, though not to be proscribed, and 
at another to advance fearlessly to the position 
that all truth everywhere is to be reverenced, in or 
out of the Scriptures, thus mirroring in his own 

1 Possibly throagh an Alexaudriau influence, which we are 
UBable to trace at present. 

IS ALcum 

experience the early rigid attitude of the Church 
at the one extreme as well as the enlightened atti- 
tude of the distant future Eeformation at the other, 
but finally resting midway between them. His 
influence was so commanding that from his time 
onward the Church was decisively committed to 
the toleration and even the encouragement of secu- 
lar studies. 

And yet Augustine does not stand alone in accred- 
iting the liberal arts to the Christian Middle Ages. 
Another influence, potent, though at first reluc- 
tantly acknowledged by Christian writers, came 
from Martianus Capella of Carthage, who was either 
contemporary with Augustine or else somewhat 
earlier.* He wrote an allegorical treatise entitled 
The Marriage of Philology and Mercury, in a turgid, 
fantastical manner which had been fastened on the 
Latinity of North Africa by Apuleius. The book 
is consequently not only tiresome in its rhetorical 
luxuriance, but is often so involved and obscure 
that we are puzzled to determine whether the 
author's peculiarities in any given instance are due 
to his affected style or to an intention to be enig- 
matic. The object of the treatise, however, is quite 

1 The date of Martianus Capella was commonly suppose to 
be either in the 5th or 6th century of our era, until the appear- 
ance of Eyssenhardt's edition in 1866. He proves that Martianus 
Capella's book must have been written before the destruction of 
Carthage by the Vandals in 439, but is unable to show how long 
before. Parker argues that the book was written before Byzan- 
tium was called Constantinople, that is, before the year 330 
(English HUtorictU Review, July, 1890, pp. 4M-416). 


clear. It was to describe in a fanciful way the 
liberal disciplines of Varro. Martianus himself 
appears to have been a self-taught man. He set 
before him the writing of his book as a task for 
winter nights, and adopted the medley of prose and 
verse which had gained a place in literature through 
the influence of Varro's medleys, constructed in this 
fashion and known as Saturce, as a proper literary 
receptacle for his rambling but copious account of 
the liberal arts. So he tells us figuratively at the end 
of his book that he has exhibited his literary god- 
dess Satura, "prattling away as she heaps things 
learned and unlearned together, mingling things 
sacred with things profane, huddling together both 
the muses and the gods, and representing the 
cyclic disciplines babbling unlearnedly in an un- 
polished tale." ^ The " cyclic disciplines " are the 
liberal arts, the encycUus disciplina (ey/cwXtos 
ircuScui) of classical antiquity, and they become 
interlocutors in his allegory. The subject of his 
treatise, consisting of nine books, is the marriage 
of Mercury with Philology, the daughter of Wis- 
dom. Mercury, as the inventor of letters, symbol- 
izes the arts of Greece of heaven-born origin, while 
his bride, Philology, is an earth-born maiden repre- 
senting school learning. After the consent of Jupi- 
ter has been given to this union of god and mortal, 

1 Loquax docta indoctis adgerans 
Fandis tacenda farcinat, immiscnit 
Masas deosque, disciplinas cyclicas 
Oariire agresti cruda finxit plasmate. 

— Book ix (closing lines). 


the nuptials are celebrated in the shining Milky 
Way with the liberal arts as the seven bridesmaids. 
The first two books are occupied with the wedding 
and the other seven treat, each in turn, of the seven 
liberal arts in the persons of the bridesmaids. 
Grammar thus occupies the third book, dialectics 
the fourth, rhetoric the fifth, geometry the sixth, 
arithmetic the seventh, astronomy the eighth and 
music the ninth. The list is significant, for it tal- 
lies with that of Augustine, except so far as concerns 
astronomy, — a discrepancy of no importance, — and 
it differs from Varro in expressly omitting medicine 
and architecture, which had completed his "nine dis- 
ciplines." As there is no evidence of any connection 
between the writings of Augustine and Martianus 
Capella, and good reason to believe that Augustine 
would not regard his purely pagan account with 
respect, especially as it contained contemptuous, 
though concealed flings at Christian doctrines, 
their agreement in keeping to seven liberal arts 
is remarkable and goes far toward proving that 
the arts were commonly supposed to be seven by 
or before the time of Augustine. Oddly enough, 
Martianus Capella never thinks of attaching any 
importance to the fact that they were seven, though 
he enlarges on the mystical character of the Heptas 
or septenary number ^ in other connections. Yet his 
limitation is none the less intentional, for medicine 
and architecture, which were very probably, if not 
certainly, two of Varro's nine, are expressly rejected 
ipp. 262 and 265, Eyssenhardt's edition, 1866. 


as bridesmaids. After six of the bridesmaids have 
appeared before Jupiter and discoursed at length, 
the Father of the Gods turns and asks Apollo how 
many more of these excellent maidens are yet in 
waiting. Apollo tells him that both medicine and 
architecture are at hand, but adds, "Inasmuch as 
they are concerned with perishable earthly things, 
and have nothing in common with what is ethereal 
and divine, it will be quite fitting that they be 
rejected with disdain." Accordingly they are re- 
fused entrance, and music, the seventh bridesmaid 
and "only remaining" heaven-bom art, is given 

The meaning is plain. Medicine and architec- 
ture are excluded because they are not purely lib- 
eral studies. They do not elevate the mind to the 
contemplation of abstract truth, but are of the 
earth, earthy, and consequently unfit for the com- 
pany of the celestials. They are of the useful and 
professional arts. This limitation of the arts by 
Martianus is therefore based on their character as 
liberal studies, though the limitation to seven was 
not due to reverence for that number. His arts 

1 " Superum pater . . . qui probandarum (=artium) nomerus 
superesset . . . exquirit. Cui Delius Medicinam suggerit Archi- 
tectonicamque in praeparatis adsistere, ' sed quoaiam his mor- 
talium rerum cura terrenorumque soUertia est nee cum aethere 
quicquam habfent superisque confine, non incongrue, si fastidio 
respnuntur'" (p. 332). After further talk Jupiter answers, 
"Nunc igitur prsecellentissimam feminarum Harmonicam 
(= Musicam) qux Mercurialium tola superest audiamus " (p. 336, 
Eyssenhardt's edition). 


in the eyes of Christian writers were unbaptized 
pagans, but the fact that they were seven did 
much towards securing them a Christian standing. 
After Martianus Capella, whose book was very 
slow in getting in with the company of Christian 
writings and consequently of exercising its strong 
influence which came much later, the next name 
of importance in the fortunes of the liberal arts is 
that of the philosopher Boethius (481-525). His 
is the last name in the history of ancient philos- 
ophy, and apart from a few expressions and terms 
which bear a Christian aspect, he must be accounted 
a pagan in his culture. His importance for the his- 
tory of education is due to his translations of Greek 
works which became text-books to a large degree 
for the whole of the Middle Ages. He composed 
versions or adaptations of treatises on arithmetic, 
geometry, the logic of Aristotle, besides other writ- 
ings of Aristotle and of Porphyry, and several 
commentaries of his own, principally on Aristotle 
and Cicero. This slender equipment was a chief 
part of what was saved to the early schools of the 
Middle Ages from Greek antiquity. Boethius has 
left no general account of the seven arts, nor is 
there to be found in his writings any indication 
that he thought the number noteworthy in this 
connection. His significance lies in the fact that 
his writings served as text-books and as a source 
for other writers on the arts to draw from. It 
is perhaps worth noticing, however, that he is ap- 
parently the first to employ the term qitadrivium 


as the name for the combined study of music, 
arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. It is also 
possible that the word trivium, as a formal designa- 
tion for grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics, goes back 
to his time. At any rate, the substantial distinc- 
tion between the trivium as an elementary course 
of study in language and discourse as opposed to 
the quadrivium, the later study of the sciences, 
emerges in his writings. 

A contemporary and friend of Boethius, and 
like him, of noble family, was the Eoman senator 
Cassiodorus (468-569), who retired in his old age 
from the turmoil of public life and the increas- 
ing barbarism of Italy under its Gothic rulers, 
taking shelter in his monastery in Calabria, where 
he spent his remaining years in the service of 
Christian learning. He attempted to stimulate 
the monks to unflagging study, particularly to the 
copying of manuscripts, and was in this way influ- 
ential in extending the practice into most of the 
monastic orders of Latin Christendom. Besides ren- 
dering this important service to learning, he wrote 
assiduously both on Christian and secular subjects. 
One of his books is entitled On the Arts and Disci- 
plines of Liberal Letters. He had previously writ- 
ten his book On the Institutes of Sacred Letters 
in thirty-three chapters, one chapter for each year 
of our Lord's earthly life. He thinks it fit, there- 
fore, that his book on the liberal arts should also 
be divided into parts according to a suitable num- 
ber. Seven is, of course, the one number that will 


match. Accordingly he opens his preface by say- 
ing : " It is now time that we should hasten through 
the text of the book we have in hand imder 
seven other titles suitable to secular letters. Let 
us understand plainly that whensoever the Holy 
Scriptures mean to set forth anything as entire 
and complete, as they frequently do, it is compre- 
hended under that number, even as David says, 
' Seven times in the day have I spoken praises 
unto thee,' and Solomon, 'Wisdom hath builded 
her house, she hath hewn out her seven pil- 
lars.' " ^ Here is a new reinforcement coming from 
Scripture itself. The old plea of Augustine on 
their behalf was that the arts helped towards 
understanding the Scriptures, and although the 
fact that they were seven might naturally give 
them favor in his eyes, yet he had not thought 
to build an argument thereon. Cassiodorus uses 
this consideration as though it were a new one in 
connection with the arts, and however slight it may 
seem to us, it became forcible enough to the mys- 
tical-number worshippers of medieval times. The 
arts are seven and only seven. But this is the 
scriptural number for what is complete and per- 

1 " Nunc tempus est ut aliis septem titulis saecnlarinm lit- 
terarum praesentis libri (textum) percurrere debeamus. . . . 
Sciendum est plane quoniam frequenter quidquid continuum 
atque perpetuum Scriptura Sanctavult intelligi, sub isto numero 
comprehendit ; sicut dicit David : ' Septies in die laudem dixi 
tibi ' . . . Et Salomon : ' Sapientia sedificavit sibi domum, 
ezcidit colunmas septem' " (Migne, Patrologia Latina, LXX, 


feet, and therefore the Christian must hold them 
in due honor. 

His list of the arts is that found in Martianus 
Capella, to whom he is under evident obligations. 
But they are unacknowledged, and Martianus him- 
self is only referred to in a contemptuous man- 
ner as a Satura Doctor, or undignified medley- 
writer. This much, however, may be assumed, 
that Cassiodorus adhered to the list of the arts 
he found in Martianus Capella, much as he must 
have abominated his undisguised paganism and pre- 
tentiously swollen style, and then proceeded to write 
a compend suitable for Christian use. His account 
is short and in no way original or forcible. The 
chapter on grammar is an abridgment of Donatus, 
the greatest of the Roman grammarians. His rhet- 
oric is based to a considerable extent on Cicero. 
His dialectics come in part from Varro but princi- 
pally from Boethius. It is really Boethius made 
easy for beginners. These three, grammar, rhet- 
oric and dialectics, he calls arts, and the next four 
are called disciplines. Of his four disciplines, his 
arithmetic comes from Nicomachus and Boethius, 
his music from various sources, his geometry mainly 
from Varro and from the little of Euclid that was 
translated by Boethius, and lastly his astronomy 
from Boethius. Rudimentary and brief as his book 
is, it is not to be despised, for it was not so much 
the content as the spirit of his labor which had 
value. It helped to fasten the tradition of learn- 
ing on the meuastery and school life of centuries. 


Thus far the liberal arts have been saved either 
in treatises or compends, but the next writer who 
gives them shelter accords them a small comer 
in what was the first encyclopedia. This work is 
the so-called Etymologies of Isidore, bishop of Se- 
ville in Spain (died 636) . By his time barbarism 
had wellnigh extinguished learning, and it is to his 
labors that we owe the vast collection of excerpts, 
gathered from patristic and classical writers, which 
served as a thesaurus of all knowledge for cen- 
turies. Though his huge book is of course utterly 
without original value and so full of absurdities 
and puerilities that it may be considered as an 
index of the retrogression in learning that had 
set in, it is still true that Isidore was the most 
widely informed man of his time. Braulio, bishop 
of Saragossa, by whose persistent entreaty he was 
induced to write the Etymologies, was next to him 
the most learned man in Spain, and testifies that 
Isidore was " distinguished in his knowledge of the 
trivium^ and perfectly acquainted with the qxiad- 
rivium," and that God had raised him up in " these 
last times " to save the world from utter " rusticity." 
The liberal arts are briefly described in his book 
and their proper number is expressly recognized 
as seven: " DisciplinoB liberalium artium septem 
sunt" ^ His account of them is copied bodily from 
Cassiodorus. A century and a half later Alcuin 
admiringly regarded him as the lumen Hispanias 

1 The earliest instance I can find of trivium as a name for the 
first three liberal arts. * EtymologuB, 1, 2. 


and as the one cui nihil Hispania darius hdbuit,^ 
expressions which reveal only too plainly how 
great must have been the darkness in which an 
Isidore could seem brilliant. 

Such is the genealogy of the patriarchs of the 
liberal arts, and of these Boethius, Cassiodorus and 
Isidore became the acknowledged authorities in 
the schools, while Martianus Capella, though at 
first unacknowledged, was also influential. The 
learning they handed over did not attain to the 
dignity of a systematic exhibit of the learning 
of the ancients, but contained at best a general 
outline of its school studies imperfectly filled in 
and often faultily modified. It cannot be too 
plainly insisted on that what they gave to the 
Middle Ages was enclosed in a very few books and 
that this scanty store constituted practically the 
whole substance of instruction up to the eighth 
century, not being completely displaced until the 
Renaissance. Isidore stands last in the list, clos- 
ing the development of Christian school learning 
in the midst of a barbarism that was extinguishing 
not only learning but civilized society in Western 
Europe. The darkness that followed his time 
for over a century was profound and almost uni- 
versal. Eome itself had become barbarian, and 
only in distant Britain and Ireland was the lamp 
of learning kept lighted, not to shine again on the 
Continent until brought thither by the hand of 

1 Alcuin, Ep. 115, p. 477, Ja£F^. 



A.D. 736-782 

The darkness on the Continent during the age 
following Isidore up to the time of Charles the 
Great coincides in time with the brightest intel- 
lectual eminence of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 
where learning found a shelter until it returned 
to Europe with Alcuin. Christianity had entered 
Britain by many doors and at many times, carry- 
ing with it the precious treasure of the liberal 
arts. From the great monastery at Lerins, ofE the 
Mediterranean shore of Gaul, St. Patrick had 
brought religion to Ireland, and other monks 
following him introduced not only the sacred 
but also the secular studies then flourishing in 
the Gallic schools. Both in the pagan schools 
of the dying Empire and in their Christian suc- 
cessors in southern Gaul the study of Greek 
lingered, and there was a directer and wider ac- 
quaintance with classical antiquity than elsewhere. 
Aristotle, Cicero, Virgil, Plautus, Varro, and Pronto 
were known and studied, and the dangerous Mar- 
tianus Capella was the favorite handbook of the 
liberal arts. The quick and speculative Irish mind 


was easily touched and responded to such teach- 
ings when brought into contact with them, and 
thus from the start developed in isolation from the 
stiffening and contracting influences which came to 
dominate the Latin Church on the Continent gener- 
ally. This learning of Ireland passed in turn in the 
seventh century into Northumbria, the Anglo-Saxon 
kingdom of North Britain. To the south, Gregory 
the Great had sent the zealous monk Augustine 
in 696 to evangelize Britain from Canterbury as a 
centre. To the same place Theodore of Tarsus came 
in 669, soon to become its first archbishop. This 
strict and capable ecclesiastic succeeded in impress- 
ing on the Anglo-Saxon Church the Eoman disci- 
pline and organization to a marked degree. But 
though a determined promoter of papal influence, 
he was yet a Greek by birth, and under his auspices 
the study of Greek was introduced in Canterbury. 
To the north the great twin monastery of Wear- 
mouth and Yarrow had been founded and enriched 
with books from Lerins and other continental mon- 
asteries, and even from Kome itself. Benedict 
Biscop (628-690), its noble founder, also became its 
abbat. His greatest pupil was Bede (673-735), 
who at the age of seven began his education under 
Benedict and continued it under his successor, 
Coelfrith. He there "enjoyed advantages which 
could not perhaps have been found anywhere else 
in Europe at the time ; perfect access to all the 
existing sources of learning in the West, Nowhere 
else could he acquire at once the Irish, the Eoman, 


the Gallican^ and the Canterbury learning ; the accu- 
mulated stores of books which Benedict had bought 
at Rome and at Vienne ; or the disciplinary instruc- 
tion drawn from the monasteries on the Continent, 
as well as from the Irish missionaries." * All that 
he was capable of receiving from these several 
schools seems to have been grafted upon his simple 
and primitive Anglo-Saxon nature and made his 
own. His pursuit of learning was ardent and unre- 
mitting. Whatever of his time was not taken up 
in the round of monastic duties he devoted to his 
studies. " All my life," he writes, " I spent in that 
same monastery, giving my whole attention to medi- 
tating on the Scriptures, and in the intervals be- 
tween the observances of regular discipline and the 
daily duty of singing in the church, I made it my 
delight either to be learning or teaching or writing." 
But Bede, though receptive, was conservative. Not- 
withstanding his allegorizing and inquiring habit of 
mind, he is yet above all marked by that loyalty and 
ancient simplicity of disposition which so strongly 
characterized the true Anglo-Saxon. He could there- 
fore allegorize without being wildly erratic, as was 
Martianus Capella, so that he was in no danger from 
that source. More than this, his circumspect regard 
for the church tradition put such a pagan writer 
quite out of the reach of his acceptance. Conse- 
quently Bede never makes use of him, but follows 
after the feebler and safer Isidore, who was his 

^Dictionary of Christian Biography, article on Bede by 
Bishop Stubbg. 


favorite authority for all matters connected with 
the liberal arts. Even on his death-bed he dictated 
to a scribe some portions of Isidore's writings, giv- 
ing as his reasons therefor, "I will not have my 
pupils read a falsehood or labor without profit after 
my death." One of his closest friends was Egbert, 
who became archbishop of York in 732 and founded 
there the cathedral school, enriching it with a great 
library. His rule of thirty-four years was of invalu- 
able service to the cause of learning. iElbert (Ethel 
bert), his scholasticus or master of the school, carried 
out his generous policy and afterwards succeeded 
him as archbishop. In this school they trained its 
greatest pupil, Alcuin. 

Alcuin was descended from a noble Northumbrian 
family. The date and place of his birth are not 
definitely known, but it is very probable that he 
was born about 735 in or near York, where his early 
life was passed. While yet a little child he entered 
the cathedral school founded by Egbert, continu- 
ing there as a scholar and afterward as master 
until his departure for Frankland. In company 
with the other young nobles who composed the 
school he was first taught to read, write and mem- 
orize the Latin Psalms, then indoctrinated in the 
rudiments of grammar and other liberal arts, and 
afterwards in the knowledge of Holy Scripture. 
He has left on record in his poem On the Saints of 
the Church at York a characteristic description of 
the studies pursued under .Albert. His verses read; 

82 ALCUm 

There the Euboric ^ scholars felt the rule 

Of Master .Mbert, teaching in the schooL 

Their thirsty hearts to gladden well he knew 

With doctrine's stream and learning's heavenly dew« 

To some he made the grammar understood 
And poured on others rhetoric's copious flood. 
The rules of jurisprudence these rehearse, 
While those recite in high Aonian verse, 
Or play Castalia's flutes in cadence sweet 
And mount Parnassus on swift lyric feet. 

Anon the master turns their gaze on high 
To view the travailing sun and moon, the sky 
In order turning with its planets seven, 
And starry hosts that keep the law of heaven. 

The storms at sea, the earthquake's shock, the race 
Of men and beasts and flying fowl they trace ; 
Or to the laws of numbers bend their mind 
And search till Easter's annual day they find. 

Then, last and best, he opened up to view 
The depths of Holy Scripture, Old and New. 

Was any youth in studies well approved. 
Then him the master cherished, taught and loved ; 
And thus the double knowledge he conferred 
Of liberal studies and the Holy Word.* 

Under the fanciful coloring of this sketch, several 
of the liberal arts may be discerned. Grammar 
and rhetoric are there at the start. We may also 
pick out two others, arithmetic, or "numbers," and 
astronomy. "Jurisprudence" means canon law. 

1 Alcnin often calls York the civitas Euhorica. 
*De Sanctis Eboracensia EcclesisB, vv. 1430-14B3. 


The " storms " and " earthquakes," as well as the 
natural history of men and beasts, belong to Isi- 
dore's " geographical " information. This was com- 
monly included under geometry, as pertaining to 
the description of the earth. " Aonian verse," " Cas- 
talia's flutes" and "Parnassus" are poetry in the 
sense of metrical exercises, and perhaps included 
some imitation of classical diction. Possibly music 
is also faintly hinted at in " Castalia's flutes." But 
though two of the liberal arts, music and geometry, 
are not clearly specified and dialectics is not named, 
we may be sure that Alcuin's picture is not intended 
to present a list but a freely drawn characterization 
of the studies at York, and it is fair to assume that 
the others were at least known, if not cultivated. 

A lively gratitude for the learning he there 
received, but above all for the faithfid instruction 
in Christian virtue which Egbert and Albert per- 
sonally instilled, remained with him to the end of 
life. Long after he had gone to Frankland he 
wrote affectionately to the brethren of the school 
at York : " It is ye who cherished the frail years 
of my infancy with a mother's affection, endured 
with pious patience the wanton time of my boy- 
hood, conducted me by the discipline of fatherly 
correction Unto the perfect age of manhood and 
strengthened me with the instruction of sacred 
learning. What can I say more, except to implore 
that the goodness of the King eternal may reward 
your good deeds to me, his servant, with the glory 
of eternal blessedness ? " Alcuin soon became ths 


most eminent pnpil of the school and an assistant 
master to Albert. On the death of Egbert in 766, 
when Albert succeeded to the archbishopric, Alcuin 
in turn appears to have succeeded him as master of 
the school. At any rate, he was then ordained a 
deacon, or "levite," and held the office of scholas- 
ticus for some time thereafter. Thus he might 
naturally expect to succeed eventually to the arch- 
bishopric. On JElbert's death in 780 he was given 
charge of the cathedral library, then the most 
famous in Britain and one of the most famous in 
Christendom. He has left on record in one of his 
poems a statement of the principal books which 
were there stored, — a sort of metrical catalogue. 
It runs in English as foUows: 

There shalt thou find the volumes that contain 

All of the ancient fathers who remain ; 

There all the Latin writers make their home 

With those that glorious Greece transferred to Rome, — 

The Hebrews draw from their celestial stream, 

And Africa is bright with learning's beam. 

Here shines what Jerome, Ambrose, Hilary thought, 
Or Athanasius and Augustine wrought. 
Orosius, Leo, Gregory the Great, 
Near Basil and Fulgentius coruscate. 
Grave Cassiodorus and John Chrysostom 
Next Master Bede and learned Aldhelm come, 
While Victorinus and Boethius stand 
With Pliny and Pompeius close at hand. 

Wise Aristotle looks on TuUy near. 
Sedolius and Juvencus next appear. 


Then come Albinus,! Clement, Prosper too, 
Paulinos and Arator. Next we view 
Lactantius, Fortunatus. Ranged in line 
Virgilius Maro, Statins, Lucan, shine. 
Donatus, Priscian, Probus, Phocas, start 
The roll of masters in grammatic art. 
Eutychius, Servius, Pompey, each extend 
The list. Comminian brings it to an end. 

There shalt thou find, O reader, many more 
Famed for their style, the masters of old lore, 
"Whose many volumes singly to rehearse 
Were far too tedious for our present verse.' 

The list of authors does not of course fulfil the 
large expectations roused by Alcuin's glowing 
promise of " all the Latin writers " in addition to 
" those that glorious Greece transferred to Kome." 
This spacious literary vista must be narrowed until 
it includes only the comparatively few Latin and 
fewer Greek writers, mainly ecclesiastical and only 
in small part classical, which were available in 
Alcuin's time. Yet single books meant something 
then. They were objects to be treasured individu- 
ally rather than shelved away by thousands. A 
private collection of an hundred was so large as to 
be thought remarkable. Hence it is easy to under- 
stand how the books in the York library, although 

1 For the sake of convenience in translation I have written 
Albinus, the name of the learned abbat and friend of Bede, 
instead of the absurd Alcuinus of some manuscripts or tbe 
sensible, but metrically unmanageable Alcimus of Froben'a 

> Vertw de SanctU Eboracensia Eccleaise, w. 1635-1561. 


probably to be reckoned by hundreds rather than 
thousands, embraced substantially the whole of 
whatever learning there was. 

Alcuin's list is therefore significant. Though the 
restraints of metre hindered him from including 
Isidore, yet with this exception the great school 
books of the time are mentioned, the books which 
were the basis of his activity as a teacher, fijst 
at York and afterwards in Frankland. Besides 
the unmentioned Isidore, whose writings were 
thoroughly familiar to him, he possesses Cassio- 
dorus, Boethius and Bede, of the great medieval 
text-books. Of classical antiquity he has parts of 
Aristotle and Cicero, the poets Virgil, Statins 
and Lucan, and the grammarians Donatus and 
Priscian, as his chief authors. The fathers of the 
Latin Church were also in the library, and among 
them were books of Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose 
and Gregory the Great. The lesser authors who 
fill in his metrical catalogue exercise only a slight 
influence on his own writings. Whether any of 
the books in his list were in Greek is not a matter 
of much concern here. It is true that Theodore of 
Tarsus had brought in the teaching of Greek at 
Canterbury, his influence subsequently extending 
to York, and that the Irish influence was favorable 
to Greek studies, so that there were probably Greek 
books in the York library. But Alcuin, though he 
may have been acquainted with Greek sufficiently 
to read it a little, confined his own literary search- 
ings to Latin. Accordingly, though Aristotle and 


some of the Greek fathers appear in his catalogue, 
it is more than likely that he is thinking only of 
Latin versions. All the Aristotle he employs may 
be found either in Boethius or in the treatise 
On the Categories falsely attributed to Augustine. 
His general school learning reposes conservatively 
on the old authorities, Boethius, Cassiodorus, Isi- 
dore and Bede. Even Boethius and Cassiodorus 
are more admired than used, so that he practically 
depends upon the other two. If Martianus Capella 
was in the York library, no mention of the fact is 

Alcuin's fame as master of the school was great. 
He handed down to his pupils the learning he had 
received and imbued them with that desire of study- 
ing the liberal arts with which Egbert and .^Elbert 
had indoctrinated him. He was well aware of the 
precarious condition of learning and impressed this 
fact faithfully upon his pupils. Years afterward, in 
a letter to Charles the Great, he recalled Egbert's 
fidelity in this respect. " My master Egbert," he 
wrote, " often used to say to me ' it was the wisest 
of men who discovered the arts, and it would be a 
great disgrace to allow them to perish in our day. 
But many are now so pusillanimous as not to care 
about knowing the reasons of the things the Creator 
has made.' Thou knowest weU how agreeable a 
study is arithmetic, how necessary it is for under- 
standing the Holy Scriptures, and how pleasant is 
the knowledge of the heavenly bodies and their 
courses, and yet there are few who care to know 

38 ALCtriN 

such things, and what is worse, those who seek to 
study them are considered blameworthy." Such 
was the spirit of his teaching and such the estima- 
tion in which he held up learning to the view of his 
pupils. Many flocked to hear him, and he soon 
became the best known master in Britain, And yet 
the names of only a few of his pupils at York have 
been handed down. One of them was Liudger, who 
came from the Continent to hear him, subsequently 
returning and becoming the first bishop of Miinster 
in Saxony. If there were other foreign pupils, as is 
not improbable, their names are lost. The others, 
whose names remain, were Anglo-Saxons. Eminent 
among them was the younger Eanbald, who became 
archbishop of York in 796. He is the Symeon of 
Alcuin's letters. Three others stand next in promi- 
nence. They are Witzo, Fridugis, and Sigulf, who 
were so attached to their master that they followed 
him from York to Frankland. Witzo returned to 
Britain in 796, but the other two never came back. 
Another was Osulf , apparently the " prodigal son " 
over whom Alcuin grieved so deeply in his letters. 
He seems to be known later under the pseudonym 
Cuculus. Of his other pupils we know little beyond 
the names of Onias, Calwinus, Eaganhard, Wald- 
ramn, and Joseph. 

The continuity of his residence at York was 
broken by successive journeys which prepared the 
way for his final removal to the Continent. His 
first journey was taken in company with -Albert 
before 766 into Frankland, and perhaps included a 


visit to Rome. The second journey was somewhat 
later, but earlier than 780. It was probably on this 
later visit that Alcuin stopped at Pavia, where 
Charles the Great was tarrying on his way home- 
ward from Italy. Alcuin there attended the public 
disputation between Lullus the Jew and Peter of 
Pisa, the king's instructor in grammar, and thus 
came under the monarch's notice. His third visit 
was the one which resulted in transferring him 
from York to Frankland. It occurred early in 781, 
a few months after the death of -Albert, whom the 
elder Eanbald succeeded as archbishop of York 
Alcuin was sent by Eanbald to Rome to obtain from 
the Pope the archbishop's pallium. On this occasion 
he met Charles, who was again in Italy, at Parma, 
and was invited to leave Britain and make his home 
in Frankland, with a view to establishing learning 
in that kingdom. Alcuin hesitated, but promised 
to come in case he could obtain consent of his arch- 
bishop and of the king of his own country. He 
secured their consent and departed for the palace 
of Charles at Aachen in 782, thus finally giving up 
his place as master of the school at York. 


AJ>. 782-796 

Alcuin arrived at the court of Charles, accom- 
panied by a few of his faithful pupils from York, 
and entered at once upon his duties. Being at that 
time forty-seven years of age, his scholarship and 
character were already developed and seasoned. 
His impending task was not a further develop- 
ment of the learning he had received at York, but 
its introduction and diffusion in Frankland. For 
such a task he was admirably equipped, inasmuch 
as he brought with him all the prestige that came 
from being master of the best school of Western 
Christendom, and was additionally favored by the 
fact that the Anglo-Saxon scholarship he repre- 
sented was of an eminently practical cast and 
therefore suitable for schooling the minds of the 
untutored Franks. He was also seven years older 
than Charles, a disparity in age sufficient to make 
him acceptable as the king's learned adviser and 
guide, and at the same time not great enough to 
interfere with sympathy and companionship. 

The plight of learning in Frankland at this time 
was deplorable. Whatever traditions had found 


their way from the early Gallic schools into the 
education of the Franks had long since been scat- 
tered and obliterated in the wild disorders which 
characterized the times of the Merovingian kings. 
The monastic and cathedral schools that had for- 
merly flourished were then rudely broken up, the 
monasteries themselves being often bestowed as 
residences on royal favorites and thus wholly 
turned from a sacred to a barbarous use. The 
copying of books almost ceased, and all that can 
be found that pretends to the name of literature 
in this time is the dull chronicle or ignorantly 
conceived legend. There had indeed been a so- 
called palace school, a centre of rudimentary 
instruction for the court, but even in this studies 
and letters played a very inconsiderable part as 
one of the incidents of court life. It was not 
possible that learning should have at best more 
than a precarious toleration, so long as the Franks 
remained unsettled in their social order. Exposed 
on the south to their Saracenic foe, and on the north 
and east to the stout Saxons and terrible Avars or 
Huns, they were consequently in danger of being 
ground to pieces between the two forces of Moham- 
medanism and heathenism. But in 732 Charles 
Martel, the grandfather of Charles the Great, shat- 
tered forever the Moslem hope of a conquest of 
Frankland at the battle of Tours. In 771 Charles 
himself, on whom was to devolve the conquest of 
the heathen Huns and Saxons, became sole king of 
the Franks. His earliest efforts, however, were 


directed towards subduing the Lombards who had 
given much annoyance to Pope Hadrian, — the first 
step in that series of events which ended in estab- 
lishing the spiritual supremacy of the papacy, on 
the one hand, alongside of and supported by the 
temporal supremacy of the emperor, on the other. 
From 774 to 780 Charles was busy with the old 
Moslem foe, still menacing his kingdom, though 
unable to compass its destruction, and with the 
more formidable Saxons. He visited Italy in 780, 
when, as we have seen, he invited Alcuin to leave 
Britain. In 781 he returned across the Alps to 
his kingdom, and the next year received Alcuin 
and installed him as master over the revived school 
of the palace. The next eight years (782-790) 
witnessed his continuous furtherance of Alcuin's 
educational projects, first in the narrower circle 
of the palace school and then in the advancement 
of both higher studies and general rudimentary 
education throughout his kingdom. 

Let us enter the school of the palace at Aachen. 
Alcuin sits as master assisted by the obedient three 
who had followed him from York, — Witzo, Fridugis, 
and Sigulf. Charles himself is foremost in eager- 
ness among his pupils. Beside him is Liutgard, 
the queen, the last and best beloved of his wives, 
and not unworthy to be his companion in study. 
Alcuin called her affectionately his " daughter, '^ 
^^filia mea Liutgarda, " ^ and his contemporary and 
friend, Theodulf, the bishop of Orleans, celebrated 


in verse her nobility of character. His delinea- 
tion is most lifelike and images the gentle queen 
at the court school, earnestly bending her mind to 
Alcuin's instruction. "Among them," he writes, 
" sits the fair lady Liutgard, resplendent in mind 
and pious in heart. Simple and noble alike con- 
fess her fair in her accomplishments and fairei 
yet in her virtues. Her hand is generous, hei 
disposition gentle and her speech most sweet. 
She is a blessing to all and a harm to none. Ar- 
dently pursuing the best studies, she stores the 
liberal arts in the retentive repository of her 
mind." ^ Gisela, the only one of the four sisters of 
Charles of whom we have any full knowledge, was 
also a pupil, coming once and again to the school 
from her retirement as abbess of Chelles. The 
three princes, his sons, Charles, Pepin and Lewis, 
also attended, the last of these succeeding his father 
as emperor. Two of his daughters were also pupils, 
the fair-haired princess Kotrud and her gentler sis- 
ter Gisela. There were also his son-in-law, Angil- 
bert, and his cousins, the two brothers Adelhard 
and Wala, with their sister Gundrada. In addi- 
tion to the members of the royal family there were 
Einhard, the king's intimate friend and later his 
biographer, Eiculf, who became archbishop of 
Mayence, Alcuin's beloved friend Arno, who was 
later archbishop of Salzburg, and the able Theo- 
dulf, afterward bishop and archbishop of Orleans. 
After the fashion of the time, Alcuin bestowed on 

i Carmina, III, 1, Sinuond's edition, p. 181> 


the members of this charmed circle fanciful pseu- 
donyms and, as was his wont, justified the act by 
Scripture. Explaining it in a letter to Gundrada, 
whom he calls Eulalia, he writes, "Intimacy of 
friendship often warrants a change of name, even 
as the Lord himself changed Simon into Peter, and 
called the sons of Zebedee the 'sons of Thimder,' a 
practice approved not only in ancient times, but 
in our modern day." ^ Alcuin himself assumed the 
name of Flaccus, which he prefixed to Albinus, a 
modified form of his own name. Charles is usually 
called David, after the warrior king of Israel, and 
sometimes is styled Solomon for his wisdom.^ 
Queen Liutgard becomes Ava, and his sister Gisela 
is Lucia. His son Pepin is Julius, and of his two 
daughters, Kotrud is Columba, and Gisela is Delia. 
Angilbert is Homer, Adelhard is Antony, and 
Wala is Arsenius. Einhard, his secretary, is Beze- 
leel. Riculf is Damoetas. Arno, whose name 
means an eagle, is appropriately called Aquila, 
and Theodulf, the poetic bishop of Orleans, becomes 
Pindar. Of his pupils from York, Sigulf is Vetu- 
lus, Witzo is Candidus and Eridugis is Nathanael. 
Another pupil, Higbod, is called Macharius, and 
Alcuin' s fancy does not exhaust itself imtil he has 
decorated Audulf, the seneschal of the palace, and 
Magenfrid, the king's chamberlain, with the names 

1 Ep. 125, Migne. 

* " Cernite Salomonem nostram in diademate fnlgentem sapi' 
entise." De Animx Satione, in Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 


of Menalcas and Thyrsis, the two swains of 

It was no easy task that was set before him; for 
the court school was not only composed of untu- 
tored minds, but embraced among its pupils the 
youthful princes and princesses, and at the same 
time their elders, so that it is great proof of 
Alcuin's tact that he was able to interest and ben- 
efit such a heterogeneous circle. We may be sure 
that his instruction was largely conducted by the 
method of question and answer, Alcuin often pre- 
paring beforehand questions and answers alike, 
and that the substance of it at the start was gram- 
mar. And yet he went beyond this in his excur- 
sions over "the plains of arithmetical art," and in 
astronomy, rhetoric and dialectics, so that the pal- 
ace school soon became the one centre within the 
royal dominions for the prosecution of higher studies. 

The exigencies of his position demanded not 
only all his tact, but unflagging activity. He had 
to be more than a skilful teacher of docile pupils, 
for their awakened minds roved restlessly about 
from one question and puzzle to another, and with 
these they plied their master assiduously, not the 
least persistent of his questioners being the king 
himself. Charles wanted to know everything and 
to know it at once. His strong, uncurbed nature 
eagerly seized on learning, both as a delight for him- 
self and a means of giving stability to his govern- 
ment, and so, while he knew he must be docile, he 
was at the same time imperious. Alcuin knew how 


46 ALCUm 

to meet him, and at need could be either patiently 
jocular or grave and reproving. Thus, on one occa- 
sion when he had been informed of the great learning 
of Augustine and Jerome, he impatiently demanded 
of Alcuin, " Why can I not have twelve clerks such 
as these? " Twelve Augustines and Jeromes ! and to 
be made arise at the king's bidding! Alcuin was 
shocked. "What!" he discreetly rejoined, "the 
Lord of heaven and earth had but two such, and 
wouldst thou have twelve?" But his personal 
affection for the king was most unselfish, and he 
consequently took great delight in stimulating his 
desire for learning. "0 that I could forever 
sport with thee in Pierian verse ! " he writes, " or 
scan the lofty constellations of the sky, or be study- 
ing the fair forms of numbers, or turn aside to the 
stupendous sayings of the ancient fathers, or treat 
of the sacred precepts of our eternal salvation." 
Here is mention of several studies which they pur- 
sued together : poetry, — which we may here include 
under grammar, — astronomy, arithmetic, the writ- 
ings of the fathers, and theology proper, and of 
these the king's favorite was astronomy. He 
studied everything Alcuin set before him, but had 
special anxiety to learn all about the moon that 
was needed to calculate Easter. With such an eager 
and impatient pupil as Charles, the other scholars 
were soon inspired to beset Alcuin with endless 
puzzling questions, and there are not wanting evi- 
dences that some of them were disposed to levity 
and even carped at his teachings. But he was 


indefatigable, rising with the sun to prepare for 
teaching. In one of his poetical exercises he says 
of himself that " as soon as the ruddy charioteer of 
the dawn suffuses the liquid deep with the new 
light of day, the old man rubs the sleep of night 
from his eyes and leaps at once from his couch, 
running straightway into the fields of the ancients 
to pluck their flowers of correct speech and scatter 
them in sport before his boys." ^ He begs Charles 
to protect him against their levity, yet not because 
he himself is weak, for he plainly says that the 
old boxer Entellus is still equal to overthrowing 
any youthful Dares. ^ 

Books and studies were not his only care as a 
teacher, for he was not wanting in plain speech in 
regard to the lax morals of the court and of Charles 
himself. Whatever he gave in the way of private, 
friendly admonition by word of mouth is of course 
lost to us, but we have on record in his Dialectics 
how he reasoned with the king on temperance as 
one of the highest kingly virtues, and in the trea- 
tise dedicated to Gundrada (Eulalia) on The Nature 
of the Soul, his pointed admonition, " Behold our 
Solomon, resplendent with the diadem of wisdom. 
Imitate his most noble traits. Cherish his vir- 
tues, but avoid his vices." ^ When it is remem-- 
bered that Alcuin's nature was peaceable, even to 
timorousness, and that Charles was a man who 

1 Carmina, CCXXXI, Migne, CI, 782. 

2 Carmina, CCXXX, Migne, CI, 782. 
• Migne, CI, 619. 

48 ALCUm 

could be fierce to cruelty, such faithful, plain 
speaking on the part of Flaccus concerning his 
King David seems no less heroic than was the 
conduct of Nathan the prophet toward King David 
in Jerusalem. If, then, on occasion he did not 
spare the monarch, whom he both loved and feared, 
we are prepared to find the same faithful dealing 
with his lesser pupils. And such was the fact. 
Again and again he exhorts both princes and prin- 
cesses, by name, not only to be discreet and wise, 
but to be chaste ; and at least on the young prince 
Lewis his teachings were not lost, for when he suc- 
ceeded his father as emperor, though he fell short of 
him in studies, he so far exceeded him in holiness 
of life that he earned the title of Lewis the Pious. 
The plans of Charles, however, were not restricted 
to the palace school, important as it was as a cen- 
tre and example for the learning he hoped to estab- 
lish. He did not intend to rule a barbarian king- 
dom. Therefore he aimed to civilize and estab- 
lish his people with Christian learning, and in this 
of course Alcuin's counsel was indispensable and 
his co-operation enthusiastic. " If only there were 
many who would follow the illustrious desire of 
your intent," he wrote to Charles, "perchance 
a new, nay, a more excellent Athens might be 
founded in Frankland; for our Athens, being en- 
nobled with the mastership of Christ the Lord, 
would surpass all the wisdom of the studies of the 
Academy. That was instructed only in the Platonic 
disciplines and had fame for its culture in the 


seven arts, but ours being enriched beyond this 
with the sevenfold plenitude of the Holy Spirit, 
would excel all the dignity of secular learning." ^ 

Acting under such impulses, Charles issued in 
787 that famous capitulary, or proclamation, which 
is the first general charter of education for the 
middle ages. It is in the form of a letter to 
the abbats of the different monasteries, reproving 
their illiteracy and exhorting them " not only not 
to neglect the study of letters, but to apply them- 
selves thereto with perseverance," and especially 
to choose out for this great work "men who are 
both able and willing to learn, and also desirous 
of instructing others." The capitulary is so im- 
portant that it deserves complete presentation. It 
reads as follows in the only copy that has been 
preserved, the one addressed to Baugulf, abbat of 
the great monastery at Fulda : 

"Charles, by the grace of God, King of the 
Franks and of the Lombards, and Patrician of the 
Romans, to Baugulf, abbat, and to his whole con- 
gregation and the faithful committed to his charge : 

" Be it known to your devotion, pleasing to God, 
that in conjunction with our faithful we have judged 
it to be of utility that, in the bishoprics and mon- 
asteries committed by Christ's favor to our charge, 
care should be taken that there shall be not only a 
regular manner of life and one conformable to holy 
religion, but also the study of letters, each to teach 
and learn them according to his ability a«d the 
l£p.86Migne; 110 Jaff^ 


divine assistance. For even as due observance of 
the rule of tlie house tends to good morals, so zeal 
on the part of the teacher and the taught imparts 
order and grace to sentences; and those who seek 
to please God by living aright should also not neg- 
lect to please him by right speaking. It is writ- 
ten * by thine own words shalt thou be justified or 
condemned'; and although right doing be prefer- 
able to right speaking, yet must the knowledge of 
what is right precede right action. Every one, 
therefore, should strive to understand what it is 
that he would fain accomplish; and this right 
understanding will be the sooner gained according 
as the utterances of the tongue are free from error. 
And if false speaking is to be shunned by all men, 
especially should it be shunned by those who have 
elected to be the servants of the truth. During 
past years we have often received letters from 
different monasteries informing us that at their 
sacred services the brethren offered up prayers on 
our behalf; and we have observed that the thoughts 
contained in these letters, though in themselves 
most just, were expressed in uncouth language, and 
while pious devotion dictated the sentiments, the 
unlettered tongue was unable to express them 
aright. Hence there has arisen in our minds the 
fear lest, if the skill to write rightly were thus 
lacking, so too would the power of rightly compre- 
hending the Sacred Scriptures be far less than was 
fitting, and we all know that though verbal errors 
be dangerous, errors of the understanding are yet 


more so. We exhort you, therefore, not only not 
to neglect the study of letters, but to apply your- 
selves thereto with perseverance and with that 
humility which is well pleasing to God; so that 
you may be able to penetrate with greater ease and 
certainty the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures. 
For as these contain images, tropes, and similar 
figures, it is impossible to doubt that the reader 
will arrive far more readily at the spiritual sense 
according as he is the better instructed in learning. 
Let there, therefore, be chosen for this work men 
who are both able and willing to learn, and also 
desirous of instructing others ; and let them apply 
themselves to the work with a zeal equalling the 
earnestness with which we recommend it to them. 

" It is our wish that you may be what it behoves 
the soldiers of the Church to be, — religious in 
heart, learned in discourse, pure in act, eloquent, 
in speech; so that all who approach your house in 
order to invoke the Divine Master or to behold the 
excellence of the religious life, may be edified in 
beholding you and instructed in hearing you dis- 
course or chant, and may return home rendering 
thanks to God most High. 

" Fail not, as thou regardest our favor, to send a 
copy of this letter to all thy suffragans and to all 
the monasteries; and let no monk go beyond his 
monastery to administer justice or to enter the 
assemblies and the voting-places. Adieu." ^ 

1 1 Migne, Patrologia Latina, XCVIII, 895. I have taken the 
fine version of Mr. MoUinger in his Schools of Charles the Greats 
]^f. 97-99. 


The voice is the voice of Charles, but the hand is 
the hand of Alcuin. The vigorous and commanding 
tone is the king's own, but he could never have 
devised the argument and cast it in the mould of 
the traditions of learning so perfectly unless he had 
been assisted by his master, and yet throughout the 
document the influences of Charles and Alcuin on 
each other are so happily blended that the mind 
and spirit that dominate it are one. It is not sur- 
prising, then, that it is the most important state 
paper of his reign on the subject of education; for 
although its application in practice was not lasting, 
and no enduring restoration of education was 
effected, yet this was neither the fault of the capit- 
ulary nor of the king. It was the necessary result 
of the insecurely protected social order. The bish- 
ops and abbats did respond in the lifetime of 
Charles and for a generation later; and while the 
society which he had ruled remained settled, so 
long the schools flourished, going down only in 
the general crash of the tenth century, when a new 
barbarism overran Western Europe. But though 
the schools founded under the stimulating influence 
of his exertions had but a short life, the capitulary 
itself remains to show us the great possibilities of 
the ideas which in inchoate form lay in his mind. 
First and most noteworthy is the assumption of the 
right of the state in the person of its sovereign, 
who is still only a king of the Franks and not yet 
head of the Holy Roman Empire, to compel a gen- 
eral attention to education, and in particular to see 


to it that the Church should keep up the study of 
letters. A second 'idea worthy of notice is that, 
without a due study and teaching of secular sub- 
jects, the servants of the Church will be unable to 
fulfil their proper functions and will be greatly 
hampered in understanding the Scriptures. The 
capitulary does not stop here, however, and insists 
both on the training of the monks and priests in 
learning, and moreover on the raising up of a body 
of teachers to perpetuate the great work of educa- 
tion, " men who are both able and willing to learn 
and also desirous of instructing others." 

It is a pity that so few records of the time remain 
which cast light on the actual effect of the capitu- 
lary. Still there is no reason to doubt that it was 
generally obeyed, and there are not wanting evi- 
dences here and there of the institution of schools 
and of further commands of the king to extend and 
strengthen learning. In the very year in which 
the capitulary was issued, Charles, according to one 
of his annalists, " brought with him from Rome into 
Frankland masters in grammar and reckoning, and 
everywhere ordered the expansion of the study of 
letters; for before our lord King Charles, there 
had been no study of the liberal arts in Gaul." ^ 
We have also a letter from the king in 788 to the 
abbat of Fulda,'' charging him to see to the schools 
in that place. In 789 a second capitulary was 
issued, laying down more definite instructions, and 

1 Jaffe, Monumenta Carolina, p. 343, note. 
3 Epistolfs Carolina, 3, Jaffd. 

54 ALCUm 

urgently enjoining their observance on the monks.* 
To this time, or perhaps earlier, belongs the so- 
called Homilary which Charles promulgated in 
order to promote the correction of the badly copied 
books of Scripture, containing the following signifi- 
cant passage : " As it is our desire to improve the 
condition of the Church, we make it our task to 
restore with the most watchful zeal the study of 
letters, a task almost forgotten through the neglect 
of our ancestors. We therefore enjoin on our sub- 
jects, so far as they may be able, to study the 
liberal arts, and we set them the example." " 

Another capitulary, issued from Aachen in 789, 
gave further aid to education by insisting that 
candidates for the priesthood should be taken, not 
from the children of the servile class, but from the 
sons of freemen ; * and, moreover, as late as the year 
802, still another capitulary enjoined that "every 
one should send his son to study letters, and that 
the child should remain at school with all diligence 
until he should become well instructed in learn- 
ing."* He secured promotion to influential sees 
of men who were learned and full of zeal in the 
cause of education. Such were Paulinus, the 
patriarch of Aquileia; Leidrad, the archbishop of 
Lyons; Arno, archbishop of Salzburg; Riculf, 
archbishop of Mayence; and Theodulf, bishop of 
Orleans. A report of Leidrad to Charles, concern- 
ing the schools established in his diocese, is still 

1 Pertz, Leges, I, 66. » Baluze, I, 209. 

» Pertz, Leges, 1, 44. * Pertz, Leges, 1, 107. 


preserved, from which it is clear that besides the 
coinmoii village schools there was a cathedral school 
maintained, and that it was in some sense prepara- 
tory to the school of the palace.^ Theodulf, the 
bishop of Orleans, carried out in his diocese the 
instructions of his king most thoroughly by organ- 
izing schools in every parish for the children of 
all, enjoining upon the priests to exact no fees for 
their teaching. His words are: "Let the priests 
hold schools in the towns and villages, and if 
any of the faithful wish to entrust their children 
to them for the learning of letters, let them not 
refuse to receive and teach such children. More- 
over, let them teach them from pure affection, 
remembering that it is written, 'the wise shall shine 
as the splendor of the firmament,' and 'they that 
instruct many in righteousness shall shine as the 
stars forever and forever.' And let them exact 
no price from the children for their teaching, nor 
receive anything from them, save what their parents 
may offer voluntarily and from affection." ' 

From these and other scattered notices, we are 
able to form some notion of the extent to which 

1 De Scholis celebrioribus seu a Carolo Magna sen post eundem 
Carolum per Occidentem instauratis. Launois, Opera, IV, p. 14. 

2 " Presbyteri per villas et vicos scholas babeant et si quilibet 
fidelium suos parvulos ad discendas literas eis commendare vult, 
eos suscipere ac docere non renuant, sed cum somma caritate 
eos doceant. . . . Cum ergo eos decent, nihil ab eis pretii pro 
hac re exigant, ezcepto quod eis parentes caritatis studio sua 
voluntate obtulerint." Migne, Patrologia Latina, CV, pp. 191 
and 207. 

66 ALCUm 

the ideas of the king were understood and also of 
the character of the schools established. Uni- 
versal provision for elementary instruction was 
contemplated and to some extent carried out, and 
in Theodulf we see for the first time the assertion 
of the principle that elementary instruction should 
be gratuitous. Had it been possible to follow this 
up with the next and most natural step, namely, 
making of the elementary instruction not only 
universal and gratuitous but compulsory, the con- 
sequences would of course have been far reaching. 
But though Charles finally went so far as to enjoin 
that " every one should send his son to school to 
study letters and that the child should remain at 
school with all diligence until he should become 
well instructed in learning," the idea of organized 
compulsion does not seem to have crossed his mind. 
It was reserved for modern times. 

In regard to the character of the schools them- 
selves, it should be observed that they were not all 
of one sort. The palace school was unique. It 
was the chief centre of culture, a very rudimentary 
learned academy, but yet the head and centre of 
the education of the times. The other schools may 
be roughly divided into the monastic and cathedral 
in one class and the parish or village schools in 
the other. The monastic and cathedral schools 
gave elementary and, in some instances, superior 
instruction, while the village schools were purely 
elementary. The head of a village school was the 
parish priest. The head of a monastic school was 


its abbat, who was responsible to the head of his 
order and thus to Rome. The head of a cathedral 
school was the scholasticus appointed by the bishop 
of the diocese, who in his turn was also answerable 
to Rome. But the abbats of the monasteries did 
not acknowledge jurisdiction on the part of the 
bishops over them, and this led to frequent conflicts 
whenever the bishop attempted to exercise such 
jurisdiction. In fact, Alcuin himself was in this 
way brought into unfriendly relations with his own 
friend, Theodulf, the bishop of Orleans, at the time 
when Alcuin was abbat of St. Martin in that dio- 
cese. The monastic schools came to be divided 
into two sides, the interior and the exterior school. 
The interior school received only the dblati, that is, 
boys who were offered for the monastic life. The 
exterior schools were attended by boys who were 
not to be monks, but priests, and by those who were 
intended for secular life. In both the interior 
and exterior schools instruction was gratuitous. 
The episcopal or cathedral schools were neither so 
strict nor so flourishing as the monastic schools, 
whose exterior side they resembled, educating can- 
didates for the priesthood and children of laymen 
generally. The scholars were partly maintained 
by the endowments of the school and, in the case 
of the laity, to some extent by the payment of 
tuition. Apart from the rigorous discipline of 
monastic life exacted of the oblati, there is, how- 
ever, no essential distinction to be drawn between the 
instruction furnished in the monasteries and cathe* 


drals. It began with learning to read and write, 
the computus, or art of reckoning, the principal use 
of which was to determine the church calendar, and 
also the art of singing. Above this rudimentary 
teaching came the study of grammar, to which great 
pains was devoted, sometimes followed by rhetoric 
and dialectics, with little or nothing beyond, except 
in the greatest monasteries. Of course there was 
also the study of Holy Scripture. In the village 
schools nothing but the rudiments were taught, 
except such scholastically unimportant additions as 
the learning of the creed, the Lord's Prayer, and 
perhaps parts of the Psalter. 

Three stages or levels of advancement are thus 
discernible in the education incompletely organized 
by Charles and Alcuin. At the head of their 
hierarchy of schools stands the palace school or, 
to strain the expression severely, the university. 
Underneath this and preparatory to it is the second- 
ary teaching of certain monastery and cathedral 
schools, while primary education is also found in 
monasteries and cathedrals and is the exclusive 
substance of instruction in the village schools. 

In 790, after eight years of unsparing labor in 
the conduct of the palace school and the further- 
ance of the king's wider educational projects, Alcuin 
returned to York. Witzo, and then Fridugis, tem- 
porarily took his place in the palace school. He 
had never abjured his allegiance to the king of his 
native Northumbria nor his obedience to the arch- 
bishop of York, regarding himself as only a so- 


journer at the court of Charles. It was therefore 
natural, when the palace school had become well 
established, and the king's commands for founding 
other schools had been measurably carried out, that 
Alcuin should regard his task among the Franks 
as accomplished. The limitations under which he 
labored at the court must also have become plain; 
for with all the lively interest in learning that was 
awakened, there were no such stable guarantees 
for its perpetuation visible in the disposition or 
intelligence of the raw Franks as could be com- 
pared with the well-settled and vigorous tradition 
of learning in Northumbria, — the only steady light 
that had broken the general darkness for now 
nearly a century. The publicity of a court and the 
journeying to and fro, whenever Charles moved 
from Aachen, were far less congenial to him than 
monastic seclusion, and where could he so naturally 
turn for this as to his old home in York? There 
was the peaceful round of ecclesiastical life, there 
was the great store of books, which he had sadly 
missed at the court, there were his brethren and 
some of his old pupils in the home of his youth, 
and there accordingly was the true retreat for his 
declining years. 

A dissension had sprung up shortly before this 
time between Charles and Offa, king of Mercia, 
then the most powerful of the Anglo-Saxon rulers. 
Charles, consenting to Alcuin's visit to Britain, gave 
him letters to Offa and enabled him to act as an in- 
termediary in effecting a reconciliation. Arrived at 

60 ALCUm 

York, Alcuin found that Ethelred, in one of those 
sudden mutations to which the affairs of the petty 
kings of the Anglo-Saxons were so liable, had 
become king of Northumbria. His cruelties and 
excesses were shocking and went far to discourage 
the hope of peaceful retirement with which Alcuin 
had returned home. Successfully concluding his 
peace-making negotiations with Offa, Alcuin found 
himself not indisposed to obey the summons which 
came from Charles to return to his court, where 
there was new and urgent need for his services. 
Accordingly he left York for Aachen in 792. Two 
heresies had sprung up which threatened not only 
the ecclesiastical unity of Latin Christendom, but 
the peace of Frankland as well. One was the teach- 
ing of two Spanish bishops, Felix of Urgel and 
Elipandus of Toledo, that Christ was not the Son of 
God in the sense of being so by generation, except as 
to his Godhead, while as to his manhood he was 
not begotten but adopted. This effort to solve the 
mystery attaching to the two natures in the person 
of Christ was known as Adoptionism. Against this 
heresy Alcuin vindicated the old Church doctrine by 
several treatises, finally securing its condemnation 
in 794 by the Council of Frankfort. It is a note- 
worthy fact that nowhere in his writings is there 
any call upon the king to use his civil power to 
crush the heresy. Nor does Charles seem to have 
thought of doing so. It was well that he did not, 
whether his forbearance was due to a sense of 
justice, fondness for theological controversy, or 


political expediency. There is reason to believe 
that all these motives were influential. Had the 
king resorted to civil punishment instead of re- 
sorting to the more peaceful but equally potent 
resource of ecclesiastical condemnation, the politi- 
cal danger was that the Spanish heretics, who were 
numerous and obstinate, would join themselves to 
his old Saracen foes in Spain and thus embolden 
them to harass his kingdom. 
.i(0 The other heretical foe was also political in its alli- 
ances. Irene, the ruler of the Eastern Empire, had 
done much to re-establish the worship of images, 
and succeeded in carrying through her designs by 
the aid of a dubiously constituted general council 
held at Nice in 787. At this council Pope Hadrian 
was not recognized as in any way the head of the 
Church, and consequently not only was the primacy 
of Rome ignored, but the independence and unity 
of the Western Church was thereby imperilled. 
Hadrian's dilemma was painful. He was not 
ready to put the ban of the Church on image-wor- 
ship in moderation, but felt bound to resist this 
Eastern encroachment on his papal dignity. If he 
acquiesced in the validity of the council's restora- 
tion of image-worship, he thereby submitted to the 
political tyranny of Irene and Constantinople. If 
he threw himself tipon the sovereigns of the West 
to support his independence, he must break with 
the East and perhaps consent to condemn image- 
worship, which the papacy had countenanced. 
There was but one king able to aid him, and that 


king was Charles. So in 792, after long conceal- 
ment and avoidance, Hadrian sent him the decrees 
of Nice. Charles of course could not endure that 
the Pope should be in vassalage to his political 
rival of the East, and was moreover an abominator 
of image-worship. Whatever languid eastern Chris- 
tians might do, the independent Franks would never 
prostrate themselves in abasement before the effigies 
of saints. He sent Alcuin the Nicene enactments, 
urging him to refute them, and Alcuin devoted him- 
self assiduously to his task. It is in every way 
probable that the so-called Caroline Books, which 
appeared at this time as a work of Charles, refut- 
ing the Nicene errors and exposing the idolatrous 
character of image-worship, are really the work of 
Alcuin.* The Council of Frankfort, which Alcuin 
attended by the king's request, not only dealt with 
the Adoptionist heresy, but also proceeded to con- 
demn the practice of image-worship and to reject 
the authority of Nice, and as the result of this 
council the two great theologico-political spectres 
of the time of Charles were laid. 

Meanwhile Alcuin's thoughts were being weaned 
away from the idea of a return to his own land by 
the incursions of the Norsemen on its coasts, and 
especially by the horrible devastation of Lindis- 
fame. His longing for retirement grew stronger 
and stronger and, after he had passed his sixtieth 
year, became irrepressible. He earnestly begged 
Charles to let him go to Fulda and there end his 

1 Monumenta Alcuiniana, p. 220, note. 


days in peace. But Charles would not subject him 
to the rule of even the abbat of Fulda, and as the 
abbat of the venerable house of St. Martin at Tours 
died at that time (796), he appointed Alcuin in his 


A.D. 796-804 

The monastery of St. Martin at Tours, on the 
banks of the Loire, was one of the oldest and rich- 
est in Frankland. Adjoining the church wherein 
the relics of St. Martin himself were enshrined, 
honored by gifts of the Prankish kings and hallowed 
by the devout visits of many a band of pilgrims, it 
was easily the first abbey within the dominions of 
Charles, not yet rivalled even by Fulda. Its rich 
endowments, consisting of landed estates scattered 
in various parts of the kingdom and tilled by thou- 
sands of serfs, yielded great revenues toward its 
support, so that when Charles appointed Alcuin to 
be its abbat, he conferred the highest monastic bene- 
fice within his gift, disregarding precedent in his 
zeal to do honor to his old teacher, who had no reason 
to expect such elevation, Alcuin not being a monk, 
but a simple deacon of the church at York. Yet 
he was a monk in spirit, " a true monk without the 
monk's vow," as his biographer admiringly writes, 
and Alcuin may have had such relations to monastic 
life at York as to make his selection at least eccle- 
siastically unobjectionable. The monks at Tours 


had been living with less strictness than their vows 
required, and it was therefore Alcuin's first care to 
subject them to the rigorous rule of the Benedictine 
order. This was not accomplished without a strong 
effort, and the importation of brethren from other 
monasteries to assist in reviving the strictness he so 
desired to see practised. But Alcuin's efforts were 
not limited to a simple revival of the monastic life. 
His house was to be a centre not only of austerity, 
but of learning. His provident mind perceived 
clearly that if the learning which had been estab- 
lished with such pains in Northumbria was already 
in danger of destruction, and if, moreover, the 
learning he himself had brought thence into Frank- 
land would lose a powerful protector after Charles 
should be gone, the best service which he could 
render by way of forestalling the uncertain outlook 
was to raise up by his own personal teaching, in 
the few years that remained to him, a body of 
pupils so devoted to learning and so considerable 
in number, that there might be good hope of pass- 
ing on the tradition of studies through their hands. 
It was thus that learning had been saved before by 
being literally handed down from one teacher to the 
next, from Benedict Biscop to Bede, from Bede to 
Egbert, and from Egbert to Alcuin, so that in the 
eyes of such a respecter of traditional methods as 
Alcuin was, it might well seem the only way of dis- 
charging his duty in his turn. 

Accordingly he set about his work with the same 
industry and zeal that had marked his earlier teach* 


ing, though in a soberer and at times a severer 
spirit. Soon after his installation at Tours, he 
wrote to Charles a letter which furnishes glimpses 
of the beginning of his work. "I, your riaccus," 
he writes,^ "following out your exhortation and 
desire, strive to minister to some in the house of 
St. Martin the honeys of Holy Scripture. Others 
I seek to inebriate with the old wine of the ancient 
disciplines, and still others will I begin to nourish 
with the apples of grammatical subtlety. Again, 
I endeavor to irradiate the minds of others with the 
order of the stars, even as a painter would illumi- 
nate by his figures the dome of a church,' being 
made all things to all men so that I may instruct 
many for the advantage of the holy Church of God 
and for the honor of your kingdom, that the grace 
of Almighty God may not be found vain in me, 
nor the generosity of your kindness of none effect." 
There is something of the glow of his earlier years 
in this allegorical description. He is once more at 
his old work, teaching the Scriptures, teaching the 
" ancient disciplines " or liberal arts, starting be- 
ginners in grammar, and instructing others more 
advanced in the king's favorite study, astronomy. 
The studies which he had begun to cultivate at 
York, and introduced at the palace, he now trans- 
plants finally to the abbey at Tours. 

1 Ep. 78 Jaffe ; 43 Migne. 

s The clause translated " even as a painter would illuminate 
by his figures the dome of a church," is obscure in the text of 
Alcuin's letter. I give what seems to be the meaning. 


But his activity was straitened at first by the 
lack of books, and of this he informs the king, 
asking leave to send some of the younger monks to 
York to obtain them. "I, your servant," he con- 
tinues, " lack the rarer books of scholastic erudition 
which I had in my own country through the devoted 
industry of my master -lElbert, and by my own 
labors. And so I mention this to your excellency, 
in the hope it may please the wisdom of your 
counsel that I should send some of the youth here 
to bring to us the necessary books, and thus fetch 
into Frankland the flowers of Britain, so that besides 
the 'garden inclosed' that is now in the Euboric 
city, there may likewise be in the Turonic city 
'orchards of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, ' and 
thus shall 'the south wind come and blow upon our 
gardens' along the river Loire 'that the spices 
thereof may flow out.' Thus indeed shall be ful- 
filled that which follows in the Book of Canticles,* 
whence I have taken this parable: 'My beloved 
shall come into his garden and eat his pleasant 
fruits,' and say to the youth: 'Eat, friends! 
yea, drink and be drunken, O beloved ! ' More- 
over the word of the prophet Isaiah exhorting to 
the study of wisdom shall also be fulfilled: 'Ho 
every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and 
ye who have no money, come ye, buy and eat. 
Yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and 
without any price.' " What books Alcuin received 
from York as the result of this request we do not 

1 Solomon's Song iv, 12, 13, 16, and y, 1. 


know, except that they were of course such books 
as he himself had access to when there. Isidore 
and Bede would naturally be sent for among the 
books on the liberal arts, and in fact we have 
knowledge of the copying of the works of Bede 
under Alcuin's supervision at Tours. There were 
undoubtedly many volumes of the fathers, which 
Alcuin felt necessary to have brought from Britain ; 
for when he wrote elaborately some years before 
against the Adoptionist heresy and image-worship, 
he had to resort to the library at York to obtain his 
numerous quotations from the patristic writings. 
It is also worth noticing that the spirit in which he 
proposed to teach at Tours had the same liberality 
of intention which had characterized the capitulary 
of his friend and helper, Theodulf, enjoining upon 
the priests of his diocese to teach without exacting 
tuition fees. Such is the meaning of Alcuin's quo- 
tation from Isaiah : " Ye who have no money, come, 
buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk without 
money and without any price." The thought of 
exacting pay for teaching was not in Alcuin's 
mind, and the fact that the teaching was gratuitous, 
while the value of what was taught was inestima- 
ble, seemed to him one of the strongest incentives 
to study on the part of his pupils. It is interesting 
to note, in this connection, some verses ascribed to 
him, and set up at a fork in the street of Salzburg 
where the way led in one direction to a tavern and 
in the other to a school. They read, " O traveler, 
hastening through the street! halt on thy way and 


read these versicles studiously. The one side will 
lead him who desires drink to a tavern, but the 
other is blest with a double advantage. Then 
choose, O traveler, which way thou wilt! either 
to go and drink, or to go and learn from holy 
books. If thou wilt drink, thou must also pay 
money, but if thou wilt learn, thou shalt have what 
thou seekest for nothing." ^ 

Let us return to his letter to Charles. Nothing, 
he says, is a loftier attainment or a pleasanter exer- 
cise, a stronger defence against vice, or more praise- 
worthy in every way, than studies and learning, to 
which we are exhorted in every page of Scripture. 
Nothing, he reminds the king, is so excellent for 
the young princes in the palace, now in the flower 
of youth, as to pursue their studies, for it is these 
which will bring them honor in their old age and 
finally qualify them for eternal blessedness. "Ac- 
cording to the measure of my small ability," he 
impressively continues, " I shall not be slothful in 
sowing the seeds of wisdom among your servants in 
these regions, being mindful of the saying: *In the 
morning sow thy seed and in the evening withhold 
not thine hand, for thou knowest not whether shall 
prosper, either this or that, or whether they both 
shall be alike good. ' In the morning I sowed the 
seed in Britain in the flourishing studies of youth, 
and now, as my blood is growing chill at evening, 
I cease not to sow the seed in Frankland, praying 
that both alike may prosper by the grace of God." 

1 Migne, Vol. CI, 757, Carm. CXIX. 


The evening is sensibly approaching, and Alcuin 
grows more and more conscious of the shortness of 
the time at his command. His purpose, however, 
is only the more resolute, his desire the more ear- 
nest, that the good work he had begun in Britain and 
continued in Frankland may prosper. And so he 
sets himself busily to the consummation of his 
work, and the abbey at Tours at once becomes the 
best school in Frankland. 

In addition to the strict enforcement of monastic 
discipline and the instruction given in the school 
both to candidates for the religious life and to the 
laity, Alcuin was occupied in supervising the 
copying of manuscripts in the scriptorium, and 
the books that were made became models for 
copyists thereafter. His careful particularity in 
regard to punctuation and orthography, and his 
employment of a clearer and neater form of letter, 
are to be seen to-day as the distinguishing features 
of the body of classical and patristic manuscripts 
dating from the ninth century and written in what 
are called the Caroline minuscules. Of course, the 
books which issued from Tours are in no way to 
be compared with the stately uncial manuscripts 
of the late Roman Empire, but they are a vast 
improvement, both in appearance and accuracy, 
over the slovenly transcripts made in the time of 
the Merovingian kings. Alcuin himself had served 
as a copyist at York, and his treatise On Orthography 
was in all probability the reference-book of the 
scribes as they worked under his supervision at 


Tours. There are not wanting indications in his 
writings of the scrupulous regard he paid to these 
matters, and of the discouraging ignorance on the 
part of scribes, which he had to overcome. In a 
letter written to Charles from Tours, in 799, he men- 
tions the fact that he had copied out on some blank 
parchment, which the king had sent him, a short trea- 
tise on correct diction with illustrations and exam- 
ples from Bede, and another containing "certain 
figures of arithmetical subtlety composed for amuse- 
ment," and then adds apologetically: "Although 
the distinctions and sub-distinctions of punctuation 
give a fairer aspect to written sentences, yet from 
the rusticity of scribes their employment has almost 
disappeared. But even as the glory of all learning 
and the ornaments of wholesome erudition begin to 
be seen again, by reason of your noble exertions, 
so also it seems most fitting that the use of punctu- 
ation should also be resumed by scribes. Accord- 
ingly, although I accomplish but little, I contend 
daily with the rusticity of Tours. Let your author- 
ity so instruct the youths at the palace that they 
may be able to utter with perfect elegance whatso- 
ever the clear eloquence of your thought may dic- 
tate, so that wheresoever the parchment bearing 
the royal name shall go, it may display the excel- 
lence of the royal learning." ^ A very delicate hint 
to Charles to mind his commas and colons, and to 
see that the princes at Aachen did the same, as 
well as a lament for the general disregard of the 

1 £p. 101 Migne; 112JafEd 


accuracies and niceties of writing. Alcnin's in- 
junctions to the scribes at Tours were repeated 
more than once and found expression in some of 
his verses which seem to have been affixed to the 
entrance of the scriptorium as a permanent warn- 
ing. They run as follows : ^ " Here let the scribes sit 
who copy out the words of the Divine Law, and 
likewise the hallowed sayings of holy fathers. Let 
them beware of interspersing their own frivolities 
in the words they copy, nor let a trifler's hand 
make mistakes through haste. Let. them earnestly 
seek out for themselves correctly written books to 
transcribe, that the flying pen may speed along the 
right path. Let them distinguish the proper sense 
by colons and commas, and set the points, each one 
in its due place, and let not him who reads the 
words to them either read falsely or pause sud- 
denly. It is a noble work to write out holy books, 
nor shall the scribe fail of his due reward. Writ- 
ing books is better than planting vines, for he who 
plants a vine serves his belly, but he who writes 
a book serves his soul." 

We can almost reconstruct the scene. In the 
intervals between the hours of prayer and the 
observance of the round of cloister life, come hours 
for the copying of books under the presiding direc- 
tion of Alcuin. The young monks file into the 
scriptorium, and one of them is given the precious 
parchment volume containing a work of Bede or 
Isidore or Augustine, or else some portion of the 

1 Migne. CI, 745, Carm. LXVn. 


Latin Scriptures, or even a heathen author. He 
reads slowly and clearly at a measured rate while 
all the others seated at their desks take down his 
words, and thus perhaps a score of copies are made 
at once. Alcuin's observant eye watches each in 
turn and his correcting hand points out the mistakes 
in orthography and punctuation. The master of 
Charles the Great, in that true humility that is the 
charm of his whole behavior, makes himself the writ- 
ing-master of his monks, stooping to the drudgery of 
faithfully and gently correcting their many puerile 
mistakes, and all for the love of studies and the 
love of Christ. Under such guidance and deeply 
impressed by the fact that in the copying of a few 
books they were saving learning and knowledge 
from perishing, and thereby offering a service most 
acceptable to God, the copying in the scriptorium 
went on in sobriety from day to day. Thus were 
produced those improved copies of books which 
mark the beginning of a new age in the conserving 
and transmission of learning. Alcuin's anxiety in 
this regard was not undue, for the few monasteries 
where books could be accurately transcribed were 
as necessary for publication in that time as are 
the great publishing houses to-day. 

One other phase of Alcuin's educational activity 
remains to be noticed. It is his literary intercourse 
with kings and ecclesiastics of influence, touching 
the state of learning. Five-sixths of his corre- 
spondence, if we may judge by the three hundred 
letters now extant, belongs to the eight years which 


elapsed between his coming to Tours and his death, 
and the fulness of information and reminiscence 
therein preserved is of the first historical value for 
the latter half of the eighth century. From this 
rich miscellany it is possible to gather enough infor- 
mation to warrant a judgment as to the fortunes of 
learning both in Britain and Frankland, with the 
added advantage of getting many a personal glimpse 
of the leading actors in the educational movement 
wherein Alcuin was the central figure. 

Some of the letters deal with Britain, for the old 
man's thoughts turned thither again and again. 
His first love was his native land, and his home 
allegiance was never renounced. "Never have I 
been unfaithful to the people of Britain," he once 
wrote from the palace of Charles to an Anglo-Saxon 
presbyter.^ And with even more devotion he wrote 
in the same spirit to his brethren of York shortly 
before he went to Tours. " My fathers and breth- 
ren, dearer than all else in the world, pray do not 
forget me ; for, alike in life and death, I shall ever 
be yours. And peradventure God in mercy may 
grant that you, who nursed my infancy, may bury 
me in old age. But if some other place shall be 
appointed for my body, yet I believe that my soul 
will be granted repose among you, through your 
holy intercession in prayer.'"* 

It was perhaps one of his first letters from Tours 
that was sent to King Offa in response to a request 

1 Ep. 15 Jaffe ; 8 Migne. 
>Ep. 34Jaffe; 6 Migne. 


that Alcuin should send one of his pupils into 
Britain to teach. Alcuin complied with Offa's 
desire, complimenting him on his great zeal for 
study, — "a zeal so great," he writes, "that the 
light of learning, though extinguished in many- 
places, now shines in your dominions."^ To the 
same year (796) belongs his congratulatory letter 
to his former pupil, the younger Eanbald, on his 
elevation to the archbishopric of York. Alcuin 
gratefully dwells on the fact that it was he who 
had been privileged to train such a pupil among 
his " sons " at York. " Praise and glory be to the 
Lord God Almighty ! " he fervently exclaims, " that 
I, the last of the servants of the Church, was spared 
to instruct among my sons one who should be held 
worthy to become a steward of the mysteries of 
Christ, laboring in my place in the Church wherein 
I was nursed and instructed, and presiding over 
the treasures of learning to which my beloved 
master. Archbishop Albert, left me his heir."* 
Then, after general counsels, Alcuin enjoins on his 
pupil, now archbishop of the see to which he him- 
self would in all probability have been elevated 
had he remained in England, the duty of keep- 
ing up the school. He also tells Eanbaid how 
to conduct it. "Provide masters both for your 
boys and for the grown-up clerks. Separate into 
classes those who are to study in books, those who 
are to practise the church music, and those who 

1 Ep. 43 Jaffe; 49 Migne. 
* Ep. 72 Ja£C€ ; 66 Migne. 


are to engage in transcribing. Have a separate 
master for every class, that the boys may not run 
about in idleness or occupy themselves in silly play 
(inanes ludos), or be given over to other follies. 
Consider these things most carefully, my dearest 
son, to the end that the fountain of all wholesome 
erudition may still be found flowing in the chief 
city of our nation."^ It is a strict school that 
Alcuin wishes kept. All the play and diversion 
for the boys was to be found in their lessons, and 
it is evidently Alcuin 's old practice as scholasticus 
at York that is urged upon Eanbald. Yet his 
austerity is not morose, and it is noteworthy that 
there is neither in this letter nor in any of his 
writings a recommendation to use flogging or any 
of the other punishments which finally became an 
essential part of medieval school discipline. But 
for all that, the idea of play was vanity. Still one 
can scarcely help thinking that some concession 
must have been made by Alcuin to the restless and 
sportive nature of boys in his own playful method 
of teaching, which verged again and again on 
jocoseness and pleasant banter. Another and quite 
different point worth noticing is that the principle 
of employing a separate master for each subject and 
of dividing the pupils into appropriate classes was 
practised both at York and Tours, — though at the 
palace school it is doubtful whether any such 
organization was or could have been effected. 
There were other letters sent to Britain. In 

lEp. 72Jaff€; 66 Migne. 


one lie exhorts ^Edilbert, a bishop in Northumbria, 
to " instruct the youth diligently in the knowledge 
of books," to keep alive "the light of knowledge" 
in his diocese, and to bear in mind that " for every 
one who would understand what to shun and what 
to pursue, the study of holy books is a necessity." * 
In 797 he writes to the church and people of 
Canterbury, then distracted by civil and ecclesias- 
tical dissensions, urging them to remember their 
former renown as a house not only of religion but 
of "the glory of philosophic study" as well.* It 
was apparently from Tours also that he wrote a 
general letter of exhortation to the monks of Ire- 
land, in which he bears notable testimony to the 
Irish learning, with which, of course, he was out 
of sympathy so far as it encouraged speculative 
tendencies or departed from the Koman tradition. ' 
He recalls how in earlier times many learned 
masters had come from Ireland into Britain and 
Gaul, and even into Italy, to the great advantage 
of the Church. But now the times are perilous, 
and therefore it behoves them to teach and learn the 
truth the more zealously, for many false teachers 
(jpseudodoctores) have arisen, introducing new and 
unheard-of opinions, and bent on getting glory for 
themselves by their novel teachings. " Therefore, 
most holy fathers, exhort your youth to learn the 
traditions of the catholic doctors." "However," 

1 Ep. 88 Jaffe ; 178 Migne. The date of this letter is uncei^ 
tain and may be earlier than Alcuin's removal to Tours. 
3£p.86Jaff^; 71 Migne. 


he pointedly remarks, " the study of secular letters 
is not to be set aside. Let grammar stand as the 
fundamental study for the tender years of infancy 
and the other disciplines of philosophical subtlety 
be regarded as the several ascents of learning by 
which scholars may mount to the very summit of 
evangelical perfection. Thus with their increase 
of years there shall come an increase of the riches 
of wisdom."^ 

His correspondence in Frankland was meanwhile 
assiduously kept up, and in this way he was able to 
watch from Tours the course of affairs throughout 
the kingdom. The interests of the palace school 
engaged his attention, though he had ceased to 
be its master, and the condition of education in 
general likewise continued to be a matter of con- 
stant concern, though Theodulf had virtually taken 
his place as soon as he removed to Tours. 

His congratulations to Theodulf as the new min- 
ister of education, or "father of the vineyards," as 
A-lcuin fancifully styles him, are embodied in what 
is probably the most variegated piece of allegorical 
scriptural patchwork he ever composed. It defies 
adequate reproduction in English, unless accom- 
panied with a separate note of explanation for 
almost every line. However, it is a letter of such 
distinct importance as to need presentation at least 
in part; for its playful vagaries contain not only 
Alcuin's congratulations, but his injunctions to 
Theodulf to promote the study of the old seven 

1 Ep. 217 Jaff^; 225 Migne. 


liberal arts without any admixture of new notions. 
The " vineyards " of the letter are the educational 
interests of the kingdom. The " wine cellars " are 
the stores of learning in general, and the "old 
wine " or the " good wine which has been kept until 
now " is the excellent wine of the liberal arts, " kept 
until now" to be broached in the age of Charles. 
This is the true feast of both bread and wine to 
which Wisdom or Sapientia invites her followers 
in the ninth chapter of Proverbs, as Alcuin explains 
in another letter, " the true wine which she mingles 
for those that are bidden to her table which is spread 
in the house she hath builded on seven pillars." ^ 

With this preface we are prepared for a simplified 
version of part of Alcuin's letter to Theodulf. It 
opens as follows : 

" Albinus wisheth health to Theodulf, the great 
prelate and father of the vineyards. 

" We read in the Book of Chronicles that in the 
time of David, the king after God's own heart, 
Zabdi was set 'over the king's wine-cellars.' ^ Now, 
by the mercy of God, a second David is the ruler 
of a better people, and under him a nobler Zabdi is 
set over the cellars ; for the king hath set his love 
upon him and 'brought him into the wine-cellars,' ' 
that the scholars may there wreathe him with 
flowers and 'comfort him with the flagons ' * of 
that 'wine which maketh glad the heart of man.'* 

lEp. 292Jaffe; 185 Migne. * Solomon's Song ii 6. 

2 I Chronicles xxvii 27. ^ Psalm civ 15. 

s Solomon's Song ii 4. 

80 ALCUm 

" So then, even if there be lacking 'bread which 
strengtheneth man's heart, ' ^ yet there is not lack- 
ing in the cellars of Orleans the wine which maketh 
glad, for our hope is in the fruitful vine, and not 
in any withered fig-tree.' Wherefore I, the new 
Jonathan, 'counsellor of our David and his man of 
letters, ' ' send this letter unto Zabdi, saying : Let 
us arise early and see how fairly the vine flourishes 
in 'the valley of Sorek';* let us 'tread out the 
wine-press with shouting, ' * that the streams of the 
wine-cellar may be dispersed abroad. " " 

Thus this fanciful commingling of serious and 
playful exhortation in regard to Theodulf's duties 
to the "vineyards" and "wine-presses" of learn- 
ing proceeds, changing for a moment at the close 
of the letter into apparent remonstrance, "Say 
not, *I cannot rise, and give thee," for even if 
thou hast not 'three loaves ' * of bread to lend, yet 
by the blessing of Christ there at hand are 'the 
seven waterpots ' ' full of the 'good wine which has 
been kept until now, ' " and kept, as all know, to be 
mingled by 'the ruler of the feast ' ^^ who dwells in 
Tours. Therefore let the old wine still be kept, in 
order that no one may put 'new wine into the old 

1 Psalm civ 15. • Luke xi 5. 

s Matthew xxi 19. » John ii 6-7. Alcuin mxist 

' I Chronicles xivii 32. This have his ' seven waterpots ' for 
is Jonathan, the uncle of David, the liberal arts, though there 

* Judges ivi 4. are only six in Scripture. 

* Jeremiah xlviii 33. i" John ii 10. 
6 Proverbs v 16. u John ii 9. 

^ Luke xi 7 


bottles,'^ for 'no man having drank old wine 
straightway desireth new; for lie saith: The old 
is better. ' ' 

" Happy is he that speaketh to one that hath ears 
to hear. Farewell, my dearest brother."* 

This is no ordinary letter ; for it is as far removed 
from the simplicity of style which often shows 
itself in Alcuin's writing as from the labored 
manner of his more learned discourses. It is 
a conscious attempt at an artificial manner of 
letter-writing, sometimes affected by scholars in 
that age, and is intended to gather together and 
display such allegorical hints of Scripture as might 
bear in favor of promoting the liberal arts; and 
what could be more convincing as argument than 
allegory? We may be sure that Theodulf had 
"ears to hear" and to heed its teachings; for the 
" paraphrastical " and "paradigmatic" epistolary 
touches * in which it abounds, and which were so 
dear to Alcuin, would be fully understood by 
Theodulf, who might well regard them as highly 
complimentary to his powers of literary apprecia- 
tion. The exhortation to prefer the "old wine," 
which Alcuin had mingled as " ruler of the feast," 
to any "new wine" that might be offered, was 
unnecessary in one respect, for TheoduK showed 
himself a vigorous supporter of the teachings of 
his master. Yet the caution was timely ; for new 
teachers were appearing at the palace of Charles, 

1 Luke V 37. « Ep. 153 Jaffe; 148 Migne. 

« Luke V 39. * Ep. 177 Jafif € ; 191 Migne. 


introducing strange notions, which were incompat- 
ible with the teachings of Alcuin. These were 
certain Irish scholars who inculcated, among other 
things, a mode of calculating Easter different from 
the tradition of Kome, and akin to that followed in 
the eastern Church. At first sight this seems too 
slight a matter to arouse comment, but the calcula- 
tion of Easter was one of the questions upon which 
the East and West were hopelessly divided. Though 
not a capital question in itself, it was one of great 
strategic importance as a test of ecclesiastical loy- 
alty. It had a similar importance in relation to the 
tradition of learning as delivered by Cassiodorus, 
Isidore, and Bede, — all faithful Latins ; for with 
their doctrine of Easter the Irish scholars coupled 
other teachings, and no doubt brought with them 
the odious book of Martianus Capella, — and who 
knows what Greek books they may not likewise 
have brought with them? It is the irrepressible 
conflict of tradition with speculation that is setting 
in. Alcuin wrote again and again to Charles, argu- 
ing for the Roman method of calculating Easter 
and lamenting that such dark "Egyptian" teach- 
ings should have drifted in to blind the youth at 
the palace. Theodulf also wrote a satirical poem, 
setting forth the utter perverseness and worth- 
lessness of the self-confident '^ Scotellus," or Irish 
scholar. Charles, however, viewed the situation 
more cheerfully and sought to draw Alcuin into 
debate with the Scotelli, perhaps hoping for no 
small enjoyment from witnessing the contest. But 


Alcuin preferred to stay at Tours. He was in no 
mood to be humiliated at the palace in his old age, 
and so he informs the king that " the aged Entellus 
has long since laid aside the cestus, and left it for 
others who are younger."^ "Of what avail," he 
exclaims, " would be the feebleness of your Flaccus 
amid the clash of arms? What can the timid hare 
do against the wild boars, or the lamb among the 
lions?"" Still he does not conceal his annoyance 
or his surprise that such foolish teachings should 
have been given any audience. As for himself, he 
says, "These silly little questions beset my ears 
like the insects that swarm at the windows in 
summer,"' and therefore he expresses great sur- 
prise that Charles should have listened to them, and 
exhorts him to summon to his side able defenders 
of the faith, lest this latest heresy spread to the 
distraction of the Church and his own kingdom.* 

Next after Charles, his chief correspondent was 
his beloved friend Arno, archbishop of Salzburg, 
whom he did not fail to advise as to the care of all 
the parishes in his diocese, insisting that there 
should be a general establishment of primary 
schools, wherein the elements should be faithfully 
taught.* In one letter, he ventures out of his depth 
into metaphysics, and attempts to explain to Arno 
the distinction between the terms "substance," 

1 Ep. 98, p. 408 Jaffe ; 82 Migne. 
« Ep. 98, p. 412 Jaffe ; 82 Migne. 
«Ep, 96, p. 398Jaff^; 80 Migne. 
« Ep. 99, p. 420 Jaffe ; 83 Migne. 
• Ep. 91 JaS^ ; 94 Migne. 

84 ALCUm 

"essence," "subsistence," and "nature." But he 
was not a philosopher, and his observations on 
"essence" are enough to establish this fact. 
"Essence," he says, "is properly spoken of with 
reference to God, he who always is what he is, 
and who said unto Moses, *I am that I am.' Now, 
God alone truly is, inasmuch as he is unchange- 
able; for of whatsoever is changeable we cannot 
say that it truly is in every respect, because it can 
become what it is not, and hence not be what it 
is."^ In still another letter he justifies to Arno 
the reading of the classical poets, quoting Jerome 
to support him. After citing Jerome's saying, 
"Even the gold which is found on the dunghill 
is to be prized and to be deposited in the Lord's 
treasury," he adds by way of comment: "It was 
the blessed apostle Paul himself who found the 
gold of wisdom in the dung of the poets, and 
transferred it to the treasury of ecclesiastical learn- 
ing, and so have all the holy doctors done, who were 
instructed after his example."'^ It seems strange 
after such a letter to find Alcuin's attitude so ascetic 
in his last years towards the poet Virgil.' In his boy- 
hood he loved to read Virgil more than he did the 
Latin Psalms, and his own poetry, both in respect to 
metre and diction, is largely drawn from the same 
source. Yet he afterwards told his pupils that the 
poetry of the Bible was sufficient for them, and 

1 Ep. 209 Jaff^ ; 161 Migne. 
« Ep. 147 Jaffe ; 117 Migne. 
* Monumenta Alcuiniana, p. 6. 


that they should run no risks from the effeminating 
verses of Virgil. Once Sigulf had ventured to read 
his Virgil secretly, contrary to Alcuin's injunction, 
and when Alcuin discovered it he overwhelmed 
him with the alarming question, " How now ! Vir- 
gilian! Why is it that against my advice, and 
apart from my knowledge, you have desired to read 
Virgil? " Sigulf cast himself at Alcuin's feet in 
abject penitence. His master reproved him aus- 
terely, but finally forgave him, adding his caution 
never to do so any more.^ Even Eigbod, though 
archbishop of Treves, did not escape his reproof. 
"Has the love of Virgil," he complains, "taken 
away all remembrance of me? Oh! that my name 
were Virgil ! Then indeed should I be ever before 
your eyes, and you would ponder my words with 
deep regard. But Flaccus is gone, and Virgil has 
come. Oh! that the four Gospels and not the 
twelve iEneads might fill your thoughts ! " " As 
for himself, when he sends to Rigbod for books, he 
begs for very different reading; namely, a Homily 
of St. Leo and a treatise of the Venerable Bede on 
the Book of Tobias.' 

Alcuin's seclusion at Tours was broken by a visit 
from Charles. In the spring of 800* the king had 
tarried some days at the monastery, in company 

1 Monumenta Alcuiniana, pp. 24, 25. 

2Ep. 216 JafEe; 169 Migne. Alcuin's "Aeneods" for 
"Aeneids" is only too characteristic of the decadent state of 
Latin in his time. 

» Ep. 197 Jaffe'; 171 Migne. 

* Ep. 133, Note 1, Jaffe'; 103 Migne. 


with his Queen Liutgard, whose health was rapidly 
failing. She died there early in June of the same 
year and was buried in the adjoining church. 
Charles himself returned in the same month to 
Aachen by way of Orleans and Paris, accompanied 
by Alcuin/ who left his monastic retreat for a 
short time in order to hold a public dispute with 
Felix of Urgel regarding the Adoptionist heresy. 
In this discussion Felix acknowledged himself 
completely vanquished by Alcuin's arguments. 

As the autumn approached, Charles prepared to 
go to Rome. Alcuin had been invited to make the 
journey with him. But the infirmities of age, 
which were daily growing upon him, coupled with 
his instinctive aversion to participating in political 
affairs, except as a peacemaker, kept him at Tours. 
Charles went to Rome, and on Christmas day was 
crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire by 
Pope Leo, thus establishing the foundations of 
social order for the middle ages. There is abun- 
dant evidence for supposing that Charles suspected 
the Pope's intentions, though not apprised of the 
time or occasion when they were to be carried into 
effect. It is also quite evident that Alcuin was 
aware of the significance of this journey to Rome, 
and perhaps it is not too much to say that he had 
secretly advised it, and by his correspondence with 
Rome was influential in bringing about the corona- 
tion. When Charles returned from Rome to Aachen 
as Emperor, Alcuin made it his first care to send 

1 Ep. 147, p. 658, Note 1, JafE€; 117 Migne. 


to him by a messenger a superbly written copy of 
the Gospels, made at the monastery in Tours, as 
the worthiest contribution he could offer to the 
"splendor of the imperial power." * 

As Alcuin's end drew near, he set in order all 
his affairs, naming his pupil Fridugis as his suc- 
cessor at Tours. A year or more before his 
death he wrote a letter to Charles, bidding him 
farewell, invoking manifold blessings upon him 
for all his goodness, and reminding him of the 
supreme importance of preparation for death and 
the day of judgment.'* Other letters written about 
the same time show how wholly his mind was 
engrossed with the thought of his coming depart- 
ure. The opening of the year 804 found him 
greatly weakened in health. A fever soon set 
in, under which his remaining strength gradually 
ebbed away. It was his desire that he might 
linger until the day of Pentecost should come. 
And so it happened; for Alcuin died at dawn of 
that May morning,' just after matins had been 

He was carried to his burial in the church of St. 
Martin, near the monastery, with every manifesta- 
tion of reverence and affection. It was a fitting 
place for his repose. Notwithstanding his cher- 
ished hope that it might be his lot to die and 
be buried at York, his works which followed him 

1 Ep. 205 Jaffe; 131 Migne. 
3 Ep. 193 Jaff^ ; 134 Migne. 
« May 19, 80*. 

88 ALCUm 

were chiefly his labors in Frankland, and in Frank- 
land Tours was the scene of his last, and in some 
ways his greatest service. It was also a spot where 
other appropriate memories clustered. There St. 
Martin had come as a founder of monasticism among 
the Gauls. There Charles Martel had delivered the 
Frank from the Moslem. Thither Charles the Great 
had journeyed to take counsel with Alcuin before 
he went to Rome, to return as monarch of the Holy 
Roman Empire. There his best beloved queen, 
Liutgard, the devoted friend of Alcuin, had died 
and was buried; and there, too, if the tradition 
be true, Alcuin pointed out to Charles the young 
prince Lewis as his successor. 

And yet, when the news of his death was borne to 
distant York, and the brethren there were chanting 
prayers for his repose, they might easily believe 
his longing desire that his soul might rest among 
them, wherever his body lay, was then being ful- 


Alcuin's writings have been preserved to us in 
tolerable completeness, and may be classified under 
a fourfold division. First come his theological 
works, which embrace the greater part, perhaps 
two-thirds, of all that he wrote. This theological 
portion may in turn be divided into four parts, 
exegetical, dogmatic, liturgical and practical, and 
lives of the saints. Of the remaining third of his 
writings, the major part is embraced in his epistles, 
and least in extent are the didactic treatises and 
poems which make up the rest. 

It will thus be seen that the greater part of 
Alcuin's writings have little connection with the 
history of education, and yet, even his theologi- 
cal works have incidental interest in this respect. 
Besides a few scanty gleanings from his exegetical 
writings, there are two of his practical treatises, 
On the Virtues and Vices and On the Nature of the 
Soul, which have a general connection with edu- 
cation, but beyond this there is nothing to be 
found. The epistles are of high value for the gen- 
eral history of the times, and more particularly 
for the abundant light which they shed upon the 
activity of Alcuin in his relation to the restoration 



of school-learning. The poems have a lesser value, 
but contain important help for the history of the 
school at York, where Alcuin was bred, and for his 
later career in Frankland. But the chief interest 
centres in his specifically didactic writings, for 
they contain most fully his general views on edu- 
cation as well as separate treatises on some of the 
liberal arts. 

Let it be remarked at the outset that Alcuin is 
rarely an original writer, but usually a compiler and 
adapter, and even at times a literal transcriber of 
other men's work. He adds nothing to the sum of 
learning, either by invention or by recovery of what 
has been lost. What he does is to reproduce or 
adapt from earlier authors such parts of their writ- 
ings as could be appreciated by the age in which 
he lived. Accordingly, while he must be refused 
all the credit that belongs to a courageous mind 
which advances beyond what has been known, he 
must yet be highly esteemed for the invaluable ser- 
vice he rendered as a transmitter and conserver of 
the learning that was in danger of perishing, and 
as the restorer and propagator of this learning in a 
great empire, after it had been extinct for genera- 
tions. A passage from the letter dedicating his com- 
mentary on the Gospel of John to Gisela and Rotrud, 
states so aptly the timorously conservative attitude 
which appears in all his literary efforts, educational 
or otherwise, that it is worth citing here. He 
writes: "I have reverently traversed the store- 
houses of the early fathers, and whatever I have 


been able to find there, I have sent of it for you to 
taste. First of all, I have sought help from St. 
Augustine, who has devoted the greatest study to 
expounding the most holy words of this holy gospel. 
Next, I have drawn somewhat from the lesser works 
of St. Ambrose, that most holy doctor, and like- 
wise from the Homilies of the distinguished father, 
Gregory the Great. I have also taken much from 
the Homilies of the blessed presbyter Bede, and 
from other holy fathers, whose, interpretations I 
have here set forth. For I have preferred to 
employ their thoughts and words rather than to 
venture anything of my own audacity, even if the 
curiosity of my readers were to approve of it, and 
by a most cautious manner of writing I have made 
it my care, with the help of God, not to set down 
anything contrary to the thoughts of the fathers." 
Fortunately for his theological works, he depends 
mainly on the really great fathers of the Latin 
Church. Most of what he writes comes from 
Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose and Gregory the 
Great, while Bede is the chief of his later authori- 
ties. Of the Greek fathers, however, he knows noth- 
ing, except through Latin versions, and of these he 
makes no considerable use beyond drawing on a 
translation of Chrysostom to help in composing 
his commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. 
His literary sources are all Latin, nor is there any 
Greek to be found in what he wrote, apart from 
some citations copied from Jerome and occasional 
Greek words from elsewhere. On the educational 


side he depends mainly on Isidore and Bede, but 
with subsidiary help from Cassiodorus and the trea- 
tise On the Categories falsely ascribed to Augustine. 
He knew of Boethius, but made only indirect use 
of him. Martianus Capella is not so much as men- 

The separate educational treatises of Alcuin of 
undoubtedly genuine character are the following: 
On Chrammar, On Orthography, On Rhetoric and the 
Virtues, On Dialectics, a Disputation with Pepin, and 
a tedious astronomical treatise, entitled De Cursu et 
Saltu LuncB ac Bissexto. Three others are ascribed 
to him with less certainty : On the Seven Arts, A 
Disputation for Boys, and the so-called Propositions 
of Alcuin. 

First and most important of these is his dram- 
mar, which falls into two parts, the one a dialogue 
between Alcuin and his pupils on philosophy and 
liberal studies in general, and the other a dia- 
logue between a young Saxon and a Frank on 
grammar, also conducted in the presence of Alcuin. 
The former dialogue is an original composition 
and contains in brief compass Alcuin's views on 
the end and method of education, and on the duty 
of studying the liberal arts, to which the entire 
dialogue serves as a general introduction. "Most 
learned master," says one of the disciples, opening 
the dialogue, "we have often heard you say that 
Philosophy was the mistress of all the virtues, 
and alone of all earthly riches never made its 
possessor miserable. We confess that you have 


incited us by such words to follow after this excel- 
lent felicity, and we desire to know what is the 
sum of its supremacy and by what steps we may 
make ascent thereunto. Our age is yet a tender 
one and too weak to rise unhelped by your hand. 
We know, indeed, that the strength of the mind is 
in the heart, as the strength of the eyes is in the 
head. Now our eyes, whenever they are flooded 
by the splendor of the sun, or by reason of the 
presence of any light, are able to discern most 
clearly whatever is presented to their gaze, but 
without this access of light they must remain in 
darkness. So also the mind is able to receive 
wisdom if there be any one who will enlighten it." 
Alcuin benignantly replies, " My sons, ye have said 
well in comparing the eyes to the mind, and may 
the light that lighteneth every man that cometh 
into this world enlighten your minds, to the end 
that ye may be able to make progress in philoso- 
phy, which, as ye have well said, never deserts its 
possessor." The disciples assent to this and then 
renew their entreaty in the same figurative and 
flowery manner. "Verily, Master," they urge, 
"we know that we must ask of Him who giveth 
liberally and upbraideth not. Yet we likewise need 
to be instructed slowly, with many a pause and 
hesitation, and like the weak and feeble to be 
led by slow steps until our strength shall grow. 
The flint naturally contains in itself the fire that 
will come forth when the flint is struck. Even so 
there is in the human mind the light of knowledge 

94 ALCniN 

that will remain hidden like the spark in the flint, 
unless it be brought forth by the repeated efforts 
of a teacher." Alcuin answers : " It is easy indeed 
to point out to you the path of wisdom, if only ye 
love it for the sake of God, for knowledge, for 
purity of heart, for understanding the truth, yea, 
and for itself. Seek it not to gain the praise of 
men or the honors of this world, nor yet for the 
deceitful pleasures of riches, for the more these 
things are loved, so much the farther do they cause 
those who seek them to depart from the light of 
truth and knowledge." 

After this elaborately courteous opening the dia- 
logue proceeds to show that true and eternal happi- 
ness, and not transitory pleasure, is the proper end 
for a rational being to set before him, and that this 
happiness consists in the things that are proper and 
peculiar to the soul itself, rather than in what is 
alien to it. "That," says Alcuin, "which is sought 
from without is alien to the soul, as is the gather- 
ing together of riches, but that which is proper to 
the soul is what is within, namely, the graces of 
wisdom. Therefore, man," he calls out in fervid 
apostrophe, "if thou art master of thyself, thou 
shalt have what thou shalt never have to grieve at 
losing, and what no calamity shall be able to take 
away. Why then, O mortals, do ye seek without 
for that which ye have within? How much better 
is it to be adorned within than without ! " " What, 
then, are the adornments of the soul?" the dis- 
ciples naturally inquire, and Alcuin answers: 


" Wisdom is the chief adornment, and this I urge 
you to seek above all things." 

Alcuin then explains that wisdom is itself eter- 
nal because it is an inseparable property of the 
soul, which is immortal, and in this differs from 
everything else of a secular character. But its 
pursuit is laborious. The scholar will not gain his 
reward without study, any more than the soldie? 
without fighting or the farmer without plowing. 
It is an old proverb that the root of learning is 
bitter but the fruit is sweet, and so St. Paul asserts 
that " every discipline at the present is not joyous 
but grievous, yet afterwards it yieldeth the peace- 
able fruit of righteousness to them that were exer- 
cised in it." Progress in secular knowledge is to be 
made by slow ascents, step by step, and is to lead 
to " the better ways of wisdom, which conduct to 
life eternal." "May the divine grace guide and 
lead us," exclaims Alcuin, "into the treasures of 
spiritual wisdom, that ye may be intoxicated at the 
fountain of divine plenty ; that there may be within 
you a well of water springing up unto everlasting 
life. But, inasmuch as the Apostle enjoins that 
everything be done decently and in order, I think 
that ye should be led by the steps of erudition from 
lower to higher things until your wings gradually 
grow stronger, so that ye may mount on them to 
view the loftier visions of the pure ether." The 
disciples are overwhelmed and humbly answer: 
"Master, raise us from the earth by your hand 
aud set our feet upon the ascents of wisdom." 


Alcuin accordingly proceeds to set before his 
pupils the seven ascents of the liberal arts in the 
following manner: "We have read how Wisdom 
herself saith by the mouth of Solomon, ' Wisdom 
hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her 
seven pillars.' Now although this saying per- 
tains to the Divine Wisdom which builded for 
Himself a house (that is, the body of Christ 
in the Virgin's womb), and endued it with the 
seven gifts of the Holy Ghost, or may mean the 
Church, which is the House of God that shines with 
these gifts, yet Wisdom is also built upon the seven 
pillars of liberal letters, and it can in no wise 
afford us access to any perfect knowledge, unless it 
be set upon these seven pillars, or ascents." Here 
is a distinct advance on Alcuin 's part beyond the 
earlier writers on the liberal arts. Augustine had 
regarded them with qualified approval because they 
were helpful towards understanding divine truth. 
Cassiodorus saw in addition a mystical hint of their 
excellence in the fact that they were seven, and 
fortified his position by the text, "Wisdom hath 
builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven 
columns." Alcuin takes up the text from Proverbs 
quoted by Cassiodorus, and finds in it the liberal 
arts as a matter of direct interpretation. Sapientia, 
or Wisdom, who had builded her house and hewn 
out her seven pillars, he mystically explains first of 
Christ the Divine Wisdom and next of the Church, 
each endued with the seven gifts of the Spirit, and 
then proceeds to his third application, which is that 


Sapientia, or Wisdom, which in the speech of his 
time often meant learning, was built upon the 
seven liberal arts. Augustine found the arts out- 
side of Scripture, but deemed them helpful towards 
understanding it. Cassiodorus found in Scripture 
a mystical hint as to their excellence, and Alcuin 
gets them out of Scripture itself. It needs not to 
be told how influential such an interpretation would 
be on the fortunes of secular learning; for if the 
arts were once found in the Scriptures, there was 
no way of getting them out of the Church. Hence- 
forth the prescriptive utterances of Tertullian, 
though echoed once and again down the middle 
ages,^ could never dominate the Church. 

But let us return to the dialogue. The pupils 
renew their request: "Open to us, as you have 
often promised, the seven ascents of theoretical 
discipline." Alcuin replies: "Here, then, are the 
ascents of which ye are in search, and that ye 
may ever be as eager to ascend them as ye now are 
to see them. They are grammar, rhetoric, dia- 
lectics, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astrology. 
On these the philosophers bestowed their leisure 
and their study." Then he adds with a boldness 
which might well have alarmed him: "By reason 
of these philosophers the catholic teachers and 
defenders of our faith have proved themselves 

1 As late as the thirteenth century we read in a regulation of 
the Dominican order: "In libris gentilium philosopkorum non 
studeat, et si ad horam suscipiat saeculares scientias, non addi' 
teat, nee arte* quaa liberalea vocant." 


superior to all the chief heretics in public contro- 
versy," and closes with the exhortation: "Let your 
youthful steps, my dearest sons, run daily along 
these paths until a riper age and a stronger mind 
shall bring you to the heights of Holy Scripture. " 

Plainly in Alcuin's mind the arts were seven 
and only seven. They are the necessary ascents 
to the higher wisdom of the Scriptures. Not the 
fact that they are simply useful to the Scriptures, 
but indispensable, is what gives them such value 
in Alcuin's eyes. Much of the rhetoric in which 
his ideas exfoliate is childish enough, but it is 
impossible not to see behind it all a pure and gentle 
spirit, who valued the scanty sum of learning he 
possessed for no lesser reasons than the love of 
God, purity of soul, knowledge of truth, and even 
for its own sake, as against any pursuit of learn- 
ing for the vulgar ends of wealth, popularity or 
secular honor. 

The second dialogue in the treatise is properly 
grammatical. Two of Alcuin's pupils, a Saxon 
and a Frank, are beginners in the study, or, to put 
it in Alcuin's flowery language, " They but lately 
rushed upon the thorny thickets of grammatical 
density." The Frank is a boy of fourteen years 
and the Saxon of fifteen. The master presides 
over their interrogations and answers. It is decided 
that grammar must begin with the consideration of 
what a letter is, though Alcuin stops on the way to 
expound the nature of words. It is defined as 
" the least part of an articulate sound, " The letters 


are the " elements " of language because they are 
ultimate and indivisible, and are built up first into 
syllables, and thereafter successively into words, 
clauses, and sentences. Letters are of two sorts, 
vowels and consonants, and are defined as follows : 
"The vowels are uttered by themselves and of 
themselves make syllables. The consonants can- 
not be uttered by themselves, nor can they of them- 
selves make syllables." But this sapient definition 
by antithesis, though accepted by the pupils, does 
not contain all that is to be said. There is an occult 
reason why the alphabet is divided into vowels and 
consonants, as Alcuin at once informs them. " The 
vowels," he says, "are, as it were, the souls, and 
the consonants, the bodies of words." "Now the 
soul moves both itself and the body, but the body 
is immovable apart from the soul. Such, then, are 
the consonants without the vowels. They may 
indeed be written by themselves, but they can 
neither be uttered nor have any power apart froin 
vowels." This explanation seems to satisfy them, 
for they pursue the matter no further. The pecu- 
liarities of the consonants are then discussed very 
much in the same manner, and the syllable is next 
taken up. It is defined as " a sound expressed in let- 
ters (vox litteralis), which has been uttered with one 
accent and at one breath." The discussion of sylla- 
bles falls into four parts, accent (accentus), breath- 
ings (spiritus), quantity (tempus), and the number of 
constituent letters. After these are discussed, the 
pupils entreat that before proceeding further they 

100 ALCum 

may be furnished with a definition of grammar. 
Alcuin accordingly tells them that " Grammar is the 
science of written sounds (litteralis scientia), the 
guardian of correct speaking and writing. It is 
founded on nature, reason, authority, and custom." 
It has been well observed that this shrunken notion 
of grammar on the part of Alcuin as contrasted 
with the wide conception of the study that pre- 
vailed among the grammarians of the later Roman 
Empire is thoroughly characteristic of the intellec- 
tual feebleness of the later time. Instead of being 
both the art of writing and speaking, and also the 
study of the great poets and orators, it has now 
become only the former of these, a childish, techni- 
cal and barren study. This appears more plainly 
as we advance to Alcuin 's alarming enumeration 
of the parts of grammar. They are " words, letters, 
syllables, clauses, sayings, speeches, definitions, 
feet, accents, punctuation marks, critical marks, 
orthographies, analogies, etymologies, glosses, 
distinctions, barbarisms, solecisms, faults, meta- 
plasms, figurations, tropes, prose, metres, fables, 
and histories." 

Words, letters and syllables, the first three of 
Alcuin's twenty-six parts of grammar, have been 
discussed, and each of the others is next defined. 
Alcuin then proceeds to the consideration of the 
different parts of speech in the following order: 
the noun, its genders, numbers, " figures " and 
cases; the pronoun, its genders, "figures," num- 
bers and cases} then the verb with its modes, 


"figures," inflections and numbers; and t'he adverb' 
with its "figures." Lastly he treats of the par- 
ticiple, the conjunction, the preposition and the 
interjection. By " figures " Alcuin means the facts 
relating to the simplicity, composition or deriva- 
tion of words. Thus, under his "figures" of 
verbs, the word cupio is in simple figure, concupio 
is in composite figure, and concupisco is in deri- 
vative figure, because it comes from concupio. 
The whole treatment of the parts of speech is 
similarly feeble in spirit and almost entirely re- 
stricted to etymology, so that Alcuin's Grammar 
is really devoid of orthography, syntax and pros- 
ody. Whatever is excellent in any way in his 
Grammar ought to be credited to Donatus, whom 
Alcuin follows. Isidore also furnishes him many 
a definition, but wherever this happens the trea- 
tise is apt to be childish. An example or two may 
suffice. The derivation of littera is said to be 
from legitera, "because the littera prepares a path 
for readers (leg entibus iter)." Feet in poetry are 
so named " because the metres walk on them, " and 
so on. Yet his book had great fame, and Notker, 
writing a century later, praised it, saying, " Alcuin 
has made such a grammar that Donatua, Nicoma- 
chus, Dositheus and our own Priscian seem as 
nothing when compared with him." 

In the manuscript copies of the Grammar there 
appear to be some slight parts missing at the end, 
so that it may have been more extended than we 
suppose J but there is no ground for thinking it 


covered more than etymology. However, Alcuin's 
next work is on orthography, and is properly a 
pendant to his Chammar. It is a short manual 
containing a list of words, alphabetically arranged, 
with comments on their proper spelling, pronunci- 
ation and meanings, and with remarks on their 
correct use, drawn to some extent from a treatise 
by Bede on the same subject. It is a sort of 
Antibarbarus, a help towards securing accuracy 
of form and propriety of use in the employment of 
Latin words, and must have been serviceable in 
the instruction of youth, but more so in the copy- 
ing of ancient manuscripts. We may reasonably 
believe that Alcuin's scribes in the monastery 
of Tours, busily engaged in recovering one and 
another patristic and classical writer, were guided 
by his book in the purification of the copies they 
made, and for which the monastery at Tours be- 
came so famous. "Let him who would publish 
the sayings of the ancients read me, for he who 
follows me not will speak without regard to 
law,"^ is the translation of the couplet which 
stands at the head of the Orthography and indi- 
cates its purpose. It is Alcuin's attempt to purge 
contemporary Latin of its barbarisms. He puts 
his comments oddly enough. "Write vinea" he 
says, "if you mean a vine, with i in the first 
syllable and e in the second. But if you mean 
pardon, write venia with e in the first syllable and 

1 Me legat antiquas vult qui proferre loqaelas. 
Me qui nou sequitur, yult sine lege loqui. 


i in the second. Write vacca with a v, if you mean 
a cow, but write it with a 6 if you mean a berry." 
In the same way be careful to write vellus with a 
V to mean wool, and bellus, if you mean fair. Sim- 
ilarly, when writing, do not confuse vel with fel 
which means gall, or with Bel, the heathen god. By 
no means consider henificus, a man of good deeds, 
the same as venificus, a poisoner. So bibo and vivo 
are not to be mixed. Such examples indicate that 
Alcuin had to struggle against " rusticity " in pro- 
nunciation as well as in writing, — a rusticity which 
was due to the modifying influence of the barbarous 
Tudesque upon the pronouncing of Latin, — an 
influence which, even in Alcuin 's time, was alter- 
ing the forms of words in a manner which presaged 
the final demolition of Latin prior to the rise of 

Some of the definitions are quite amusing. Coe- 
lebs, a bachelor, is defined as "one who is on his 
way ad caelum," evidently the true monk. "Write 
oequor with a diphthong," for the reason that it is 
derived from aqua. Malus, a mast, is to have a 
long a, but " a mdlus homo ought to have a short a." 

It is on the Grammar and Orthography that Al- 
cuin' s didactic fame principally rests, and justly 
so, for in spite of their puerile character they did 
more good service than anything else he wrote. Let 
it be remembered that the tall, blue-eyed barbarians, 
whom Alcuin was aiming to civilize, were but little 
children when it came to school-learning. Let it 
also be remembered that Alcuin, divesting himself 


of all vanity and conceit, wisely and even humbly 
set before them what they could learn, and the 
only thing they could learn at the start. Even 
his master, Charles, had to toil painfully to bend 
his fingers, stiffened with long use of the sword, to 
the clerkly task of writing, and confessed that he 
acquired the art with great difficulty. 

The dialogue On Rhetoric and the Virtues has 
for its two interlocutors Charles and Alcuin, and 
was composed in response to a request from the 
king. Alcuin instructs him in the elements of 
the rhetorical art with special reference to its 
applications in the conduct and settlement of dis- 
putes in civil affairs, and closes with a short de- 
scription of the four cardinal virtues, — prudence, 
justice, fortitude and temperance. It is, there- 
fore, not strictly a book on rhetoric, but rather on 
its applications. It is based on rhetorical writ- 
ings of Cicero, which are rehandled by Alcuin, 
and always with loss and injury to his originals. 
The hand of Isidore is likewise visible in places, 
and contributes to the general deterioration. If 
the Grammar was rudimentary and ill-arranged, 
the Rhetoric suffers yet more from its miscellaneous 
presentation of ill-digested bits of rhetoric, and 
from its greater dulness of style. Moreover, it is 
less jocose in spirit than are parts of the Grammar, 
though Alcuin's specimen of sophistical reasoning, 
which he produces for the instruction of the king, 
is indeed comical. " What art thou? " asks Alcuin, 
and after Charles answers, "I am a man (homo)," 
the dialogue goes on as follows : — 


'' Alcuin. See how thou hast shut me in. 

Charles. How so? 

Alcuin. If thou sayest I am not the same as 
thou, and that I am a man, it follows that thou art 
not a man. 

Charles. It does. 

Alcuin. But how many syllables has homo9 

Charles. Two. 

Alcuin. Then art thou those two syllables? 

Charles. Surely not; but why dost thou reason 

Alcuin. That thou mayest understand sophistical 
craft and see how thou canst be forced to a con- 

Charles. I see and understand from what was 
granted at the start, both that I am homo and that 
homo has two syllables, and that I can be shut up 
to the conclusion that I am these two syllables. 
But I wonder at the subtlety with which thou hast 
led me on, first to conclude that thou wert not a 
man, and afterward of myself, that I was two 

After the Rhetoric comes the Dialectics, which is 
in part extracted or abridged from Isidore, who 
in his turn had taken from Boethius, and in part 
copied almost solidly from the supposed work of 
Augustine on the Categories of Aristotle. If pos- 
sible, it is less original than the Rhetoric, but is 
at least what its title indicates, — an attempt to 
say something about dialectics. However, as the 
age of medieval logic had not yet begun in earnest, 


Alcuin's treatise was perhaps as much as the times 
would bear, especially in view of the existing 
indifference or antagonism in the Church to the 
subtleties of Aristotle. In conjunction with the 
Chammar and Rhetoric, it may be taken as consti- 
tuting such instruction in the trivium as was given 
in the palace school. 

Interesting in its way as a specimen of Alcuin's 
teaching is his dialogue written for Pepin, then a 
young prince of sixteen years, and entitled The 
Disputation of Pepin, the Most Noble and Royal 
Youth, with Alhinus the Scholastic. It rainbles 
without plan and allegorizes without restraint. 
Parts of it run as follows : — 

"Pepin. What is writing? 

Alhinus. The guardian of history. 

Pepin. What is language? 

Alhinus. The betrayer of the soul. 

Pepin. What generates language? 

AlMnus. The tongue. 

Pepin. What is the tongue? 

AJbinu^. The whip of the air. 

Pepin. What is air? 

Alhinus. The guardian of life. 

Pepin. What is life? 

Alhinus. The joy of the happy; the expectation 
of death. 

Pepin. What is death? 

Alhinus. An inevitable event; an uncertain jour- 
ney; tears for the living; the probation of wills; 
the stealer of men. 


Pepin. What is man? 

Alhinus. The slave of death j a passing traveler; 
a stranger in his place. 

Pepin. What is man like? 

Alhinus. An apple." 

Let us understand this short and sudden defini- 
tion. Alcuin means that man hangs like an apple 
on a tree without being able to know when he is to 

The questions on natural phenomena are not less 
instructive : — 

" Pepin. What is water? 

Alhinus. A supporter of life; a cleanser of filth. 

Pepin. What is fire? 

Alhinus. Excessive heat; the nurse of growing 
things ; the ripener of crops. 

Pepin. What is cold? 

Alhinus. The febricity of our members.* 

Pepin. What is frost? 

Alhinus. The persecutor of plants; the destruc- 
tion of leaves; the bond of the earth; the source of 

Pepin. What is snow? 

Alhinus. Dry water. 

Pepin. What is the winter? 

Alhinus. The exile of summer. 

Pepin. What is the spring? 

Alhinus. The painter of the earth. 

Pepin. What is the autumn? 

Alhinus. The bam of the year." 

1 This " cold " is apparently a chilL 


After more of this same sort, the dialogue rapidly 
runs into puzzles and then closes. 

The treatise De Cursu et Saltu Lunce ac Bissezto 
needs no special notice. It deals with the method 
of calculating the changes of the moon with special 
reference to the determination of Easter, and is 
compiled for the instruction of the king. Bede is 
the principal authority. 

There remain for consideration the three works 
somewhat doubtfully attributed to Alcuin. The 
first is entitled On the Seven Arts, and is a fragment 
derived from the work of Cassiodorus on the same 
subject. But only the first two parts, grammar and 
rhetoric, are described, and they are in part copied 
and in part abridged from their original. Alcuin 
may have taken them after his manner from Cassi- 
odorus, without any thought of laying claim to the 
production as his own. But whether he did this or 
not, the fragment is useful in that it shows that the 
book of Cassiodorus On the Arts and Disciplines of 
Liberal Letters was consulted in the time of Alcuin. 
The so-called Disputation of the Boys is likewise 
doubtful. It is a set of questions and answers 
on Scriptural subjects and may at least serve as 
another example of the catechetical method of that 
time. Much more interesting is the set of puzzles 
entitled TTie Propositions of Alcuin, the Teacher of 
the Emperor Charles the Great, for Whetting the Wit 
of Youth. Unfortunately, the Venerable Bede had 
written just such a treatise, which is here closely 
copied. But this need not weigh against the proba- 


bility of Alcuin's taking and using it. But whetlier 
he did really do so, or whether copyists attributed 
it to him, is a matter of little moment, for it well 
represents the character of the teaching of the time. 
It is, in fact, not unlikely that these are the prop- 
ositions which Alcuin enclosed in a letter to 
Charles and styled " certain figures of arithmetical 
subtlety sent for the sake of amusement." Charles 
himself refers to his excursions with Alcuin 
"through the plains of arithmetical art," and Al- 
cuin speaks in one of his poems of " studying the 
fair forms of numbers" with Charles. The pro- 
positiones consist in the main of very simple exer- 
cises, all solved by painfully rudimentary methods. 
Not one of them exhibits an apprehension on 
Alcuin's part of any mathematical idea or for- 
mula. Forty-five of the fifty-three propositions 
may, by courtesy, be styled exercises in reckoning. 
Each one is twofold in its structure, containing 
the propositio and its attached solutio. They are 
put in the style of a master towards his pupils, the 
proposition generally culminating in some such 
formula as "let him solve this who can" (solvat 
qui potest), or, " let him that understandeth say how 
we must divide," or simply, "let him who is able 
answer." The propositions themselves are various, 
but are confined to a few kinds of questions, all put 
in concrete form and sometimes jocosely. Occa- 
sionally there is no regard paid to the probability 
of the state of things pictured in the proposition. 
Thus a king is represented as gathering an army 


in geometrical progression, one man in the first 
town, two in the second, four in the third, eight in 
the fourth, and so on through thirty towns. The 
total is 1,073,741,823 soldiers, an army whose 
number might well amuse the imperial pupil. Of 
course Alcuin is entirely ignorant in this problem of 
any formula for the sum of a geometrical progres- 
sion, and so he proceeds to count it all out. The 
solutions are alarmingly infantile in their methods. 
The numerals are Roman, and this adds enormously 
to the slowness of working the examples. The only 
processes employed are the simplest operations of 
addition, multiplication, and division, commonly 
neglecting all " remainders " in division, and there 
is rarely any use of subtraction. Common fractions 
of a very elementary sort are at times used, but no 
fractional symbols are employed. They are spoken 
of as "the half," "the half of the half," "the third 
part," "the sixth part," and "the eleventh part." 
They are not treated as fractions, but as divisors. 
" Aliquot parts " frequently figure in construct- 
ing the puzzles, and there are some examples 
of finding areas of triangles, always isosceles, 
and of quadrangular and "round" figures. His 
forty-second proposition is unique, in being clever. 
There is a ladder with one hundred steps. One 
dove is on the first step, two on the second, three on 
the third, and so on. How many doves are on the 
ladder? On the first and ninety-ninth steps there 
are accordingly one hundred doves, and so on the 
second and ninety-eighth steps. Proceeding thus 


through the pairs of steps, we find forty-nine pairs 
of steps, each containing one hundred doves, with 
the fiftieth and hundredth steps omitted, which 
last contain jointly one hundred and fifty doves. 
The total is accordingly five thousand and fifty. 
In this example Alcuin unconsciously goes through 
the process which underlies arithmetical progres- 
sion. Some of the propositions are properly alge- 
braical, involving the simple equation in one 
unknown quantity, but of course he is not aware of 
this and works them out mechanically. 

Not only are the methods of solution employed 
so crude, but no principle of arithmetic ever seems 
to dawn upon his mind. Cumbrous manipulation 
of particular problems is his only accomplishment. 
The character of most of the problems solved is 
depressing to think about. Of course they are con- 
crete and meant to be witty. They are " ad acuendos 
juvenes." They are "figures of arithmetical subt- 
lety" meant to whet the wit of youth, but it is 
surely startling to read of a sty that holds 262,304 
pigs, as one which some unknown quidam has con- 
structed, starting with one sow and a litter of 
seven ; — and all this invented to get an example in 
multiplication. Other examples are equally silly 
without being funny. Quadrangular houses are to 
be put into a triangular city so as to fill the triangle 
completely, or into a "round" city with a similar 
result, the answers being worked out in entire 
unconsciousness of the logical impossibility in- 
volved. Leaving the semi-arithmetical exercises^ 


we have a variety of trivial puzzles remaining. 
After an ox lias plowed all day, how many steps 
does he take in the last furrow? The answer is, 
"none, because the last furrow covers his tracks." 
This would serve as well for the first or for any or 
for all furrows. When a farmer goes plowing, 
and has turned thrice at each end of his field, how 
many furrows has he drawn? Alcuin says six, but 
the Venerable Bede said seven, and the Venerable 
Bede was right, if only the farmer starts in his 
first furrow on a straight line from one end of the 
field and finishes his last furrow. In another prop- 
osition Alcuin requests that three hundred pigs be 
killed in three batches on successive days, an odd 
number to be killed each day. But as three odd 
numbers cannot add up an even sum, he has an 
impregnably insoluble proposition. " Eccefabula I " 
he cries in glee, "here's a go! There is no solu- 
tion. This fable is only to provoke boys." He 
adds a scholium at the end to the effect that the 
proposition will work in the same way if only 
thirty pigs are taken. 

Let not Alcuin' s treatises be judged apart from 
the environment of his times. The age, whose 
intellect he addressed, thought as a child and spake 
as a child, and to have presented anything else was 
to present what it could not understand. It was to 
invite certain failure in any attempt made in behalf 
of learning. It was a necessary first stage in the 
evolution of modern European onlture that some 
one should at some time teach the rudiments to 


barbarous western Europe, and that Alcuin did this 
and recognized the limitations under which learn- 
ing would be received, is not so much a proof of 
mediocrity as of his sagacity. He was not a writer 
of genius, nor of originality, nor of vast learning, 
but he was a man of great practical sense. 

Nor should his properly didactic writings furnish 
the basis for a judgment as to the educational attain- 
ments of their author, except as exhibiting the sub- 
stance of his formal instruction. If this is all 
we have, then the best that can be said for his 
teaching is that he gave western Europe imper- 
fectly understood fragments of the wisdom of the 
ancients, and is more significant from the fact 
that he makes plain the intellectual darkness of 
the time than that he is introducing a learning 
that relieves it. Happily, there is another side 
to his educational activity which appears in many 
of his letters. They give us many a glimpse of 
his utter unselfishness, his purity and gentleness, 
his fidelity to the spiritual welfare of his pupils, 
and his never-ceasing personal anxiety that their 
lives and minds should be moulded by the spirit of 
Christ. Here is the true Alcuin, not the reviver 
of a decayed and fragmentary school learning, 
but the inspirer of Christian ideals, both as to 
studies and conduct, in an age when both seemed 
to be disappearing from the face of Europe. 

Alcuin's eye followed his pupils in their later 
life and his hand of support or restraint was out- 
Stretched to them again and again. When one of 


them, who was fond of high living and the company 
of actors, was going to Italy, he cautioned him soberly 
not only as to the care of his health in that climate, 
but as to his general conduct. "My dearest son," 
he writes, "great is my longing for your health 
and prosperity. I therefore desire to send you a 
letter of exhortation in place of the spoken words 
of paternal affection, beseeching you to keep God 
before your eyes and in your remembrance with 
entire devotion of mind and virtuous intention. 
Let Christ be On your lips and in your heart. Act 
not childishly and follow not boyish whims, but be 
perfect in all uprightness and continence and mod- 
eration, that God may be glorified by your works, 
and that the father who bore you may not be made 
ashamed. Be temperate in food and drink, re- 
garding rather your own welfare than any carnal 
delight or the vain praise of men, which profiteth 
not if your acts be displeasing to God. It is bet- 
ter to please God than to please actors, to look 
after the poor than to go after buffoons. Let 
your feastings be decorous, and those who feast 
with you be religious. Be old in morals, though 
young in years." Another letter written from 
Tours in Alcuin's old age to the young princes still 
at the palace, when Charles, their father, was away 
in Italy, is both tender and playful in its affection. 
It reads in part : " To my dearest sons in Christ 
their father wisheth eternal welfare. I would write 
you a great deal if only I had a dove or a raven 
that would carry my letter on its faithful pinions. 


Nevertheless, I have given this little sheet to the 
winds, that it may come to you by some favoring 
breeze, unless, perchance, the gentle zephyr change 
to an eastern blast. But arise, south or north 
or any wind! and bear away this little parchment 
to bid you greeting and to announce our prosperity, 
and our great desire to see you well and whole, 
even as the father desires his sons to be. Oh, how 
happy was that day when amid our labors we played 
at the sports of letters! But now all is changed. 
The old man has been left to beget other sons, and 
weeps for his former children that are gone." 

In his little book, On The Virtues and Vices, sent 
to Count Wido for his moral instruction, he com- 
mends to him the reading of the Scriptures in words 
of quiet serenity and deep spirituality. "In the 
reading of the Holy Scriptures," he writes, "lies 
the knowledge of true blessedness, for therein, as 
in a mirror, man may consider himself, what he 
is and whither he goes. He who would be always 
with God ought frequently to pray and frequently 
to read, for when we pray we are speaking with 
God, and when we read God is speaking to us." 
More than one letter of Alcuin's to wayward pupils 
has come to us. To one of them he writes in the 
following manner: "A mourning father sends 
greeting to his prodigal son. Why hast thou for- 
gotten thy father who taught thee from infancy, 
imbued thee with the liberal disciplines, fash- 
ioned thy morals, and fortified them with the 
precepts of eternal life, to join thyself to the com- 


pany of harlots, to the feastings of revellers, to the 
vanities of the proud? Art not thou that youth 
that was once a praise in the mouth of all, a delight 
to their eyes, and a pleasure to their ears? Alas! 
alas ! now art thou a reproach in the mouth of all, 
the curse of their eyes and the detestation of their 
ears. What has so overturned thee but drunken- 
ness and luxury? Who, gracious boy, thou son 
and light of the Church, has persuaded thee to feed 
the swine and to eat of their husks? Arise, my 
son, arise, and return to thy father and say not 
once, but often, 'Father, I have sinned against 
heaven and in thy sight. ' " 

Such are a few out of many instances where 
Alcuin has left on record the secret of his power 
over the character of his pupils. He had been 
their master in things scholastic, but he was also 
their father in things spiritual. 



It is not surprising that conflicting judgments 
have been passed upon the character of Alcuin. 
He belonged to an age alien to our own both in 
the substance and manner of its intellectual life. 
He belonged, moreover, to an age wherein we see, 
with some confusion of vision, the disappearance 
of an old chaotic state of things and the emerging 
of a new social order, — one of those times in his- 
tory when the cross-currents run so strongly that 
it often becomes hard to hold in view the true 
central drift of affairs. Besides this, it must be 
remembered that in his chief public activity he 
was a stranger in a strange land, and the charac- 
teristics of the raw, unformed Franks in their 
effect on the manifestation of his own traits among 
them, and through his behavior among them to us, 
must be taken into account. Additional elements 
which require to be appreciated are the Anglo- 
Saxon antecedents of Alcuin, his own personal 
traits so far as separable from his surroundings, 
the character of the teaching he received at York 
and of the masters who gave it, the actual sum 
of the learning of the time and the nature of his 
acquaintance with it, and the effect of his own 



efforts upon his pupils and their successors. Thus, 
because of this complexity of elements and the 
additional embarrassment caused by the imper- 
fection of our records, there have been almost as 
many opinions as writers about Alcuin. " Consid- 
ering the period in which he lived, he may be 
regarded as a universal genius,"^ is the judgment 
of one of his biographers. Another depicts him 
as " full of faith in the power and the destiny of 
man's intellect, " and in fact quite a modern in his 
attitude.'' The Abb6 Laforet in his sketch exceeds 
all bounds of moderation in eulogizing Alcuin 's 
learning. "The erudition of Alcuin," he writes, 
" from whatever point it be viewed, embraced both 
the world of secular and of sacred learning. On 
one side he brings before us the most famous phi- 
losophers, historians and poets of Greece and 
Rome, and on the other exhibits a knowledge of 
the whole of ecclesiastical history and Christian 
doctrine."" Another, with more justice, rates him 
as "the most learned man of his age,"* but leaves 
the value of this opinion to be further determined 
by the character of the learning to which Alcuin had 
access. Less complimentary, as well as disappoint- 
ing is the judgment which makes him merely " an 
estimable man, and a good administrator, but of no 

1 Lorenz, Lift of Alcuin, London, 1837, p. 245. 

2 Monnier, Alcuin et Charlemagne, p. 357. 

8 Laforet, Alcuin Restaurateur des Science* en Occident 
tout Charlemagne, p. 246. 

* Histoire Lit€raire de la France, VoL IV, p. 344. 


original genius, and cast in a monastic mould." ^ 
From these diverse estimates, whether eulogistic 
or depreciatory, of Alcuin's scholarly qualities, 
it is a relief to turn to such a well-balanced judg- 
ment as that which asserts that " Alcuin was rather 
a man of learning and action than of genius and 
contemplation, like Bede, but his power of organi- 
zation and of teaching was great, and his services 
to religion and literature in Europe, based indeed 
on the foundation of Bede, were more widely ex- 
tended, and in themselves inestimable."* 

The same contrariety is discoverable in the esti- 
mates put on other phases of Alcuin's character. 
Thus his humility seems to one ostentatious, and 
to another genuine. His timidity becomes either 
rank cowardice or wise prudence. His conserva- 
tive distrust of anything outside the Roman tradi- 
tion is interpreted both as a trait which " dwarfs 
him almost to littleness," ' and as the saving quality 
of all his teaching.* 

Underneath these diversities, due in part to the 
point of view of the writers and in part to an atten- 
tion bestowed on certain aspects of Alcuin's charac- 
ter to the obscuring of others, and thus leading to 
casual error or even serious disproportion, there is 

1 Laurie, Rise and Early Constitution of Universities, p. 47. 

* " Alcuin," by Bishop Stubbs, in the Dictionary of Christian 

8 Mullinger, Schools of Charles the Great, p. 126. 

* Laforet, Alcuin Restaurateur des Sciences en Occident Moun 
Charlemagne, p. 247, note 2. 

120 ALCUm 

yet an agreement as to much that is essential. 
After all, the original and proper personality of 
Alcuin, as distinguished from any modified mani- 
festations of his character under stress of circum- 
stances, which at times obscured his real self, is 
/ not very difl&cult to discover and portray. He was 
a man of pure and unselfish character, thoroughly 
penetrated by a deep and gentle piety joined to 
strong moral earnestness. Inwrought with these 
fundamental traits was his Anglo-Saxon sobriety 
and fidelity, to which his training at the school in 
York added habits of industry in study and vigorous 
self-control in morals. The models which he con- 
sciously aspired to imitate were those characters 
which had themselves been moulded on the strict 
lines of Church orthodoxy. His intellectual ideals 
were thus limited by ecclesiastical tradition, and 
hence his supreme aim as a teacher was to master 
and communicate the existing learning so far as 
adopted by the Church, without any thought of crit- 
icism upon it or adventurous speculation beyond it. 
Fidelity to received truth and not discovery of new 
truth was accordingly his one passion as a student. 
Whatever cramping effect such a conservative atti- 
tude would have had on the development of a learn- 
ing that had once been planted and needed growth, 
this injurious effect was not visible in Alcuin's 
introduction of studies into Frankland. Indeed, 
it was rather a help than a hindrance to the cause 
of education that only what was generally accepted 
95 settled should be taught at the first. Alcuin 


was therefore the man for his time. The airy 
speculations of the bright Irish scholars, "their 
versatility in everything, with sure knowledge of 
nothing," ^ as Theodulf contemptuously put it, and 
their general tendency to question the body of 
accepted tradition, would have unfitted them to be 
introducers and inculcators of the rudiments of a 
school learning upon which any hope of future 
progress might securely depend. 

It was also well that Alcuin joined to his consid- 
erable learning both unselfishness of purpose and ^ 
great tact. Though Charles assigned rich bene- 
fices for his support, he remained a poor man to 
the end of his life, using the means at his command 
to further the cause of learning. Though in the 
line of succession to the archbishopric of York, he 
was indifferent to this as to all other ecclesiastical 
advancement, content to be a simple deacon or 
"humble Levite," as he so often styles himself. 
His influence was thus more evidently the result 
of his own personal qualities than of the accidents 
of ecclesiastical station, and the example of self- 
denial which he set to his scholars proclaimed 
eloquently enough the excellence of learning over 
the advantages of wealth and position. "It is 
easy indeed to point out to you the path of wis- 
dom," was his noble encouragement to them, "if 
only ye love it for the sake of God, for knowledge, 
for purity of heart, for understanding the truth, 
yea, and for itself. Seek it not to gain the praise 


122 ALCUm 

of men, or the honors of this world, nor yet for 
the deceitful pleasures of riches, for the more these 
things are loved so much the farther do they cause 
those who seek them to depart from the light of 
truth and knowledge." ^ This is the spirit of his 
best teaching, and in this, if in nothing else, he is 
the finest soul of his age; nor has any age since 
his time either outlived or lived up to his monition. 
We must also credit him with a certain largeness 
of view in spite of his circumscribed horizon. He 
had some notion of the continuity of the intellectual 
life of man, of the perils that be set the transmis- 
sion of learning from age to age, and of the dis- 
grace that attached to those who would allow those 
noble arts to perish which the wisest of men among 
the ancients had discovered. He saw clearly that 
it was vitally important for education to pervade 
the Church, wherein all hopes of learning were then 
centred, and that it was also valuable as a civilizing 
agent in the world. Bestowing his instruction in the 
first instance on those who were to be churchmen, 
he also taught clerks and laymen alike at York, at 
Aachen and at Tours, not for hire, not for osten- 
tation of his erudition, but without money and 
without price, for the love of souls. Perceiving 
that the precious treasure of knowledge was then 
hidden in a few books, he made it his care to 
transmit to future ages copies undisfigured by 
slips of the pen or mistakes of the understanding. 
Thus, in every way that lay within his power, 

1 Orammatica, Migne, CI, 860. 


he endeavored to put the fortunes of learning for 
the times that should succeed him in a position of 
advantage, safeguarded by an abundance of truth- 
fully transcribed books, interpreted by teachers of 
his own training, sheltered within the Church and 
defended by the civil power. 

In view of such inestimable services, it becomes 
a matter of small concern to seek after his defects. 
They are visible enough, so far as important to an 
understanding of his place in education, in the 
limitations which define his ideals and achieve- 
ments. Therefore, let the best he wrought be 
taken as reflecting Alcuin at his best, exhibiting, 
as in a fine likeness, the expression for which he 
most deserves to be remembered. 



At the time of Alcuin's death, the chief posts of 
advantage for promoting the cause of education 
within the empire of Charles the Great were held 
by his pupils or friends. Theodulf was bishop of 
Orleans, the adviser of Charles in his later years, 
and of his successor, Lewis the Pious. His beloved 
Amo was archbishop of Salzburg, Riculf of May- 
ence, Rigbod of Treves, and Leidrad of Lyons; 
while the younger Eanbald, as archbishop of York, 
might be depended upon to foster sound learning 
in Britain. Adelhard, the princely cousin of 
Charles the Great, who had retired from court 
when a young man to enter the abbey of Corbie 
near Amiens, had become its abbat, and after the 
death of Alcuin founded the abbey of new Corbie 
in Saxony in 822, becoming its first abbat and 
remaining at the head of both monasteries until 
his death in 826. Angilbert ruled the abbey of St. 
Riquier. Sigulf became abbat of Perrieres, one 
of the houses whose revenues had been assigned 
to Alcuin on his coming into Frankland. On the 
death of Sigulf in 821, Aldrich, who had studied 
at Tours, succeeded him as abbat of Perrieres, and 
80 continued until 829, when he became archbishop 


of Sens. He also taught theology for a while in 
the palace school, and was instrumental in reform- 
ing the discipline of the abbey of St. Denis. He 
died at Ferrieres in 836. Alcuin's favorite pupil, 
Fridugis, by his desire succeeded him as head of 
the monastery and school at Tours in 804, continu- 
ing there until his death in 834. His friend and 
correspondent, St. Benedict, ruled the monastery 
at Aniane in Languedoc. Others of his pupils 
of lesser fame were scattered here and there in 
various schools, while the greatest and almost the 
latest of his disciples, young Rabanus Maurus, the 
primus prceceptor Germanioe, was already teaching 
in the school at Fulda, destined under his presi- 
dency to become more famous than Tours itself. 

"In that part of Germany which the eastern 
Franks inhabit," writes Rudolph, the contem- 
porary biographer of Rabanus, "there is a place 
called Fulda from the name of a neighboring river. 
It is situated in a great forest which in modern 
times is called Buchonia, or Beechwood, by the 
inhabitants of those parts. The holy martyr Boni- 
face, who was sent as an ambassador from the 
apostolic see into Germany and ordained bishop 
of the church of Mayence, obtained this woodland, 
inasmuch as it was secluded and far removed from 
the goings and comings of men, from Carloman, 
king of the Franks, and by authority of Pope 
Zacharias founded a monastery there in the tenth 
year before his martyrdom, being the seven hundred 
and forty-fourth year after the birth of our Lord. 


" Now the fifth abbat appointed to rule over the 
monastery after the blessed Boniface was Rabanus, 
who was also my preceptor, a man deeply religious 
and well instructed in Holy Scripture, whose whole 
study was given to meditation in the law of the 
Lord and to the teaching of truth, and moreover to 
exercising the greatest care over monastic discipline 
and the advancement of his scholars." 

Rabanus was born in Mayence in 776. While 
yet a child he was sent to the abbey school of 
Fulda to be educated, and at once embraced the 
monastic life. The school had already attained 
great reputation. Its foundation had been laid by 
Boniface, the "apostle of Germany." Sturm, the 
first abbat, had visited the Italian abbeys in 747, in 
search of a pattern for his own, and on his return 
modeled the abbey and its school after Monte 
Cassino, the foremost of the Benedictine houses. 
Its second abbat was Baugulf, who ruled from 780 
to 802, coincident with almost the whole time of 
Alcuin's activity in the palace school and at Tours. 
Being then one of the leading abbeys, it was directly 
affected by the educational revival instituted by 
Charles under Alcuin's guidance, and the copy of 
the great capitulary of 787 addressed to Baugulf 
is the only one that has been preserved to modern 
times. Rabanus pursued his youthful studies under 
him and his successor Ratgar, whose interest in 
his brilliant pupil was deep and constant. 

Ratgar was soon attracted by the fame of Alcuin, 
and an old manuscript of Fulda records the fact 


that in the year 802 he sent "Kabanus along 
with Hatto to Tours unto Master Albinus, for the 
sake of learning the liberal arts." Kabanus was 
not unmindful of the kindness, and in some verses 
to Ratgar records his gratitude and laments his de- 
fective memory, but assures Ratgar that whatever 
his master taught him was all faithfully committed 
to writing. "It is thy goodness," he says, "that 
has enabled me to study books, but the poverty of 
my own mind stifles me. Wherefore, whatsoever 
my master taught me by word of mouth I committed 
entire to the leaves of books, lest my wandering 
wits should lose it." ^ As companions of his studies 
at Tours, Kabanus had Hatto, already mentioned, 
who succeeded him as abbat of Fulda, Haymo, 
later archbishop of Halberstadt, and Samuel, who 
became abbat of Lorsch. He never forgot his 
student days under Alcuin. In the preface of his 
encyclopedia, On the Universe, Kabanus recalls to 
Haymo the days spent at Tours " in the study of 
letters and meditation on the Scriptures, when we 
read together not only the sacred books and the 
expositions of the holy fathers thereon, but also 
those acute inquisitions of the 'prudent of this 
world ' into the nature of things, recorded in their 
descriptions of the liberal arts and their other 
investigations."* Alcuin so highly esteemed his 
pupil that he bestowed on him, after his custom, 
the special surname Maurus, after St. Maur, the 

1 Poem to Ratgar {Carm. XIV), Migne, CXII, 1600. 
s X>e Univerao, Preface to Haymo, Migne, CXI, IL 


favorite pupil of St. Benedict. After a stay of 
not more than a year at Tours, Rabanus returned 
to Fulda, and was at once put in charge of the 
abbey school by Ratgar, with Alcuin's full ap- 
proval, as may be inferred from a short letter^ 
he wrote to Rabanus in the year 803, invoking a 
blessing upon him and his scholars. But his 
interest did not cease here, and a still later letter 
shows that he and Rabanus kept up a close corre- 

In this letter Alcuin congratulates Rabanus on 
Ms becoming devotion to "sacred wisdom" and 

1 Ep. 251 Jaffe; 187 Migne. 

3 Litterarum series tuarum Isetificavit ocalos meos. Ep. 290 

It is true this letter of Alcuin is not directed to Rabanus by 
name, but it contains indications that it was sent to him. In the 
salutation, Alcuin greets his " dearly beloved son and pet animal 
(animali)." Rabanus means "a raven" (rabe), and the desig- 
nation " pet animal " is in keeping with a humorous habit Alcuin 
had of playing on the names of his pupils in his letters to them. 
Moreover, the letter is addressed to one who is commended for 
his excellence in studies, and abounds in exhortations regarding 
the teaching of youth who are then subject to him. Still more 
conclusive is the fact that the recipient of the letter is said to have 
been " a fellow-disciple of Samuel," whom Rabanus himself in 
one of his poems styles the special sodalis of his earlier days. 
"My beloved brother," he says in his twenty-second poem, " it 
was once my joy to have thee as my companion among the other 
students. Remember me now as I remember you, and let your 
heart retain and your conduct exhibit that which once our 
master Albinus taught us." (Migne, CXII, 1604.) 

Duemmler argues from the mention of Samuel, without observ- 
ing the other considerations, that the letter was sent to Rabanus 
(Monumenta Alcuiniana, p. 876, note). Froben inclines to the 
same view (Migne, vol, C, 459, note on " Samuelia "). 


his "love of learning." In response to a previous 
request that Alcuin should write an account of his 
own conduct and habits so that he might imitate 
them, his master expresses surprise that he should 
need these. "It seems a marvel," he writes, "for 
you to ask me to describe my conduct, since you 
were with me day and night, nor was anything 
that I did ever concealed from you." He then 
reminds him that he would do far better to imi- 
tate the examples of the holy men whose lives are 
recorded in Scripture, and above all exhorts him 
"to seek after Christ as foretold by the prophets 
and set forth in the gospel." "And when you find 
him," he continues, "do not let him go, but bring 
him into the house of your heart and keep him 
as the master of your life." He also instructs 
him to be careful of his office as a teacher, that the 
gift of intelligence in him may be increased; "for 
'unto him that hath shall be given,' that is, to him 
that hath a desire of teaching shall be added the 
discernment of understanding." His pupils are 
exhorted " to learn in their youth, that they may 
be able to teach when they are old." 

Samuel helped Eabanus in his school work, and 
there were other assistants. The library of the 
abbey was greatly enriched, possibly drawing some 
of its books from Tours. ^ In a poem to Gerhoch, 
the librarian, whom Rabanus fancifully styles his 
" davipotens frater," or "brother with the power of 

1 Alcuin, Ep. 290 Jaffe. Rabanus asked for books from 

130 ALCUm 

the keys," he describes the extent of the library. 
"What can I say," he exclaims, " in the high praise 
of books, — the books which you, dear brother, 
keep beneath your key? There is to be found 
"whatsoever the wisdom of the world has published 
in its various ages." The exaggerations of verse 
need not cause us to doubt that the library was 
ample and one of the completest for its time. A 
large part of it could doubtless be reconstructed by 
title out of the list of writers quoted by Kabanus 
in his own works. The importance he attached to 
it is also another indication that he was following 
hard after the example Alcuin had set at Tours in 
using the library as an indispensable aid to the 
school. He had many pupils, and some of them 
became famous. Such were Walafrid Strabo, 
Servatus Lupus, Kudolph, his biographer, and 
Otfried of Weissenburg. It is probable that the 
whole number of his scholars largely exceeded 
Alcuin' s, for there are very few names of men 
eminent in education during the next age which 
may not be traced back to Fulda or its twenty- 
two affiliated lesser schools. Meanwhile Eigil, the 
fourth abbat, passed away, and Kabanus succeeded 
him in 822. He then gave over the charge of teach- 
ing the liberal arts to others, reserving to himself 
the interpretation of Scripture. His career as abbat 
was famous. Under his rule the monastery at Fulda 
rapidly increased its endowments, and the number 
of its students and affiliated schools. Its fame for 
learning and sanctity spread through all of Frank- 


land as well as Germany, and extended even to 
Italy. Rabanus became the adviser of kings and 
princes, and even of the pope, and was looked up 
to with special veneration as being the one on 
whom the mantle of Alcuin had fallen. 

After ruling the abbey for twenty years, he 
retired in 842. The brethren urgently sought to 
recall him. But as he refused, they elected Hatto 
in his place. Rabanus then went into retirement 
at Petersberg near by, and devoted his attention 
to meditation and writing. In 847 he was made 
archbishop of Mayence, and died in the year 856, 
in a neighboring village on the banks of the Rhine, 
whence his body was taken back to Mayence for 

He was not only Alcuin's greatest pupil, but a 
much greater man than his master. He was made 
in a larger mould. While a conservative son of the 
Church, he endeavored to develop rather than to 
confine the ecclesiastical tradition in education, 
and is entirely lacking in that timorous shrinking 
from everything outside the traditional limits which 
so cramped Alcuin's intellectual exercises. The 
heathen weapon of dialectics, which had been looked 
on as a dangerous two-edged sword, he grasped 
without hesitation to wield for the truth. He 
recalled grammar from being a barren study of 
words and letters and syllables, and connected it 
again with the study of literature. Instead of treat- 
ing astronomy as merely a ready-reckoning machine 
for working out the church calendar, he urged its 

132 ALCUm 

study as a lofty intellectual exercise. And so with 
the other disciplines. Though unable to disengage 
himself from most of the prevalent errors of his 
time, he must be credited with improving on 
Alcuin's treatment of the liberal arts to a very 
marked degree. The whole volume of secular 
learning expanded under his teaching and yet with- 
out prejudice to the study of Scripture. He also 
contributed distinctly to the general advance of 
thought which ended in bringing in scholasticism. 
He boldly insisted on applying the processes of 
reason to systematizing the facts of religion, and 
in this occupies a middle position between the 
irresponsible speculative spirit of Erigena and the 
uncritical crudeness of tradition. 

The whole temper of his mind was more open 
and courageous than Alcuin's. When he came to 
deal with natural events, he did not childishly seek 
to ascribe them to occult causes, but referred them 
to the order of nature established by the Creator; 
and so, when a superstitious mob in his time sought 
to "bring help to the waning moon" by their 
cries and shouts, with the beating of drums and 
sounding of horns, he rebuked them, bidding them 
remember that the regular changes and even the 
portents in the skies were all the work of a wise 
Creator who was able to manage the world he had 
made. There was also in him, as might have been 
expected, marked generosity and sympathy. He 
was more than once reproved for being over-liberal 
to the poor, and in the time of famine exerted 


himself unsparingly to relieve the distress. The 
only instance of unjust severity to another that 
attaphes to his name was the flogging of the monk 
Gotteschalk by his order for heretical teaching 
touching the doctrine of predestination. But, set- 
ting this aside, Rabanus, though a strict discipli- 
narian, was likewise a humane man through all his 
life. He was also prudent, for in the midst of 
bloody dissensions and plots that thickened around 
the successors of Charles the Great, and the vio- 
lent internal strife which rent his own monastery 
before he became abbat, he so deported himself as 
to preserve the regard of every faction. Taken as 
a whole, the personality of Rabanus charms us by 
its independence and vigor, tempered, as it was, by 
humanity, good sense, and a loyal respect for the 
Church he served. 

On the educational side, however, his activity as 
a teacher and a writer chiefly call for notice, and 
both of these are seen to the best advantage in 
his important educational works, which deserve 
separate and somewhat detailed examination. 

His works, which have come to us substantially 
entire, are indeed voluminous, being collectively at 
least three times greater in extent than those of his 
teacher Alcuin, and ominously suggest the monu- 
mental vastness of the scholastic writings yet to 
come. Most of his writings, perhaps seven-eighths in 
all, are theological, being devoted chiefly to a series 
of elaborate commentaries, expositions, and " narra- 
tions " on thirty-three books of the Old and New 


Testament, including a complete explanation, lit- 
eral, allegorical, and mystical, of the Pentateuch 
and nearly all the historical books of the Old 
Testament, together with Proverbs, Jeremiah and 
Ezekiel, as well as the Gospel of Matthew and all 
the epistles of St. Paul. In all this he was only 
following after the ideal that was ever before him 
of acquainting himself and others with the whole 
plenitude of Scripture. For "in the knowledge 
of Holy Scripture," as he writes in his book On 
the Instruction of the Clergy, "is the foundation, 
the establishment and the perfecting of wisdom."* 
Herein is contained the wisdom that flows from 
the eternal and unchangeable Wisdom, even from 
the mouth of the Most High himself. It is " first- 
born before all other creatures." The unfailing 
light that burns within the Scriptures "streams 
forth over all the world as though let out from 
a lantern." By that light he studied, devoting 
his long life to a whole-souled and untiring at- 
tempt to set forth their supreme excellency. 

But in addition to his theological writings, Ra- 
banus composed several treatises which bear in 
whole or in part on education. These are the 
works, On the Instruction of the Clergy, On Reckon- 
ing, An Excerpt on the Chrammatical Art of Priscian, 
On the Universe (which may equally well be 
entitled On Everything^, a short Latin- Tudesque 
Glossary, and a tract On the Origin of Languages. 
Perhaps to these should be added his short Treatise 

1 j)e Clericorum Institutione, III, cap. 2. 


on the Soul, which, like Alcuin's on the same sub- 
ject, is based on Augustine. 

His work On the Instruction of the Clergy * was 
written in the year 819 in response to urgent 
requests from the monks of Fulda and others that 
he should compose a compendium of the things 
most necessary for the clergy to know. It is divided 
into three books. The first deals with the organ- 
ization of the Church, its orders of clergy, its vest- 
ments and sacraments. The second describes the 
round of ecclesiastical duties, the feasts and fasts 
of the year, and parts of the church service, includ- 
ing also some notice of the books of Scripture, the 
orthodox creed and the various opposing heresies. 
The third book, as Rabanus states, "teaches how 
all that is written in the sacred books is to be 
searched and studied, as well as those things in the 
arts and studies of the heathen which are useful 
for an ecclesiastic to inquire into." ^ 

It is this third book which has educational inter- 
est, for, although primarily intended as a manual 
for the education of clergy, it contains much that 
relates to secular learning. The book opens with 
the proposition that any one who would fulfil the 
sacred clerical duties ought to be a man of "pleni- 
tude of knowledge, rectitude of life and perfection 
of erudition." Rabanus goes on to define this more 
fully by saying, " Such an one should not be allowed 

1 De Clericorum Institutione in Migne's Patrologia Latina, 
CVII, 29^-419. 

a De Clericorum Institutione, Frsefatio. 

186 ALCUm 

to be ignorant of any of those things wherein it 
will be his duty to instruct both himself and those 
who are subject to him, that is, of the Holy Scrip- 
tures, of the clear truth of history, of the modes of 
figurative speech, of the signification of mystical 
things, of the utility of all the disciplines, of 
uprightness of life and probity of morals, of ele- 
gance in the delivery of discourses, of wisdom in 
the setting forth of doctrines and of the different 
remedies suited to the variety of spiritual dis- 
eases."^ His educated man is, therefore, to be 
conversant with Scripture, with history, with an 
understanding of the figures of speech and the 
mystical sense of things, and of all the useful 
knowledge in the different liberal disciplines. Be- 
sides this, he is to be a man of probity in life and 
especially accomplished in rhetoric and dialectics. 
" One who does not know these things is not only 
unable to be useful to others, but even to himself. 
Therefore it is needful that the future ruler of a 
people, while he has leisure, should prepare in 
advance the weapons whereby he may bravely 
conquer the enemy and defend the flock committed 
to him. For it is a base thing that one who has 
been appointed a pastor of souls should only begin 
to desire to learn at the time when he ought to be 
ready to teach, and it is a perilous thing for any 
one to take up the burden of a ruler if he cannot 
• ably support that burden by the strength of his 
own wisdom." And then comes one of those 

^ De CUricorum Inttitutione, I, !» 


golden sentences wherein we hear Kabanus at his 
best. "Let no one dare to teach any art, unless 
he has first learned it by prolonged study."* The 
imperative tone was needed, for he was waging 
relentless war against the promotion of ignorant 
clergy to posts of honor. "There are some," he 
says, " who within the Church itself seek promotion 
solely from ambition. As the Scripture attests, it 
is they who covet the first salutations in the market- 
place, the chief places at feasts, and the chief seats 
in the synagogues. . . . They are the ignorant 
shepherds who are reproved by the prophet Isaiah, 
saying, 'These are shepherds that cannot under- 
stand.' By reason of their ignorance, those who 
follow them stumble, and hence in the gospel 
Christ the Truth saith, 'If the blind lead the blind, 
tiey shall both fall into the ditch.'" By such 
scriptural exhortation and illustration Eabanus 
develops the opening chapter of the third book, 
and prepares the way for setting forth the educa- 
tion needed for the elevation of the clergy. 

He then proceeds in the second chapter to explain 
that knowledge of Holy Scripture is both the begin- 
ning and the completion of wisdom, because Scrip- 
ture is the highest utterance of God himself, the 
eternal Wisdom. Whatever truth there may be 
elsewhere, whether in the Church or out of it, has 
its source, it is true, in the same eternal Wisdom 
from which the Scriptures come. But as Scripture 

1 Nulla ars doceri prsesumator, nisi prios intenta meditatione 
discator. I, L 

188 ALCUm 

is the transcendent and highest utterance of the 
Divine Wisdom, so is it superior to the wisdom 
found in the Church or in the world outside. Yet as 
all truth has one source he goes on to say : " What- 
ever truth there may be anywhere is to be known as 
truth by bringing it to a test of truth, and what- 
ever good there is anywhere is discovered to be 
good by a standard of goodness. Nor are the true 
and wise things which are to be found in the books 
of the 'prudent of this world ' to be attributed to 
any other source than truth and wisdom itself, 
because these truths were not constructed originally 
by those in whose writings they are found, but 
were truths existing from eternity which they 
merely discovered. For Truth and Wisdom, the 
teacher and enlightener of all, granted them the 
power to search them out. Therefore, all the use- 
ful knowledge that lies in the books of the heathen, 
and the salutary truths of Scripture as well, are to 
be used for one purpose and referred to one end, 
that is, the perfect knowledge of truth and the 
highest excellence of wisdom." This is Augustine 
revived in his most generous mood, speaking by the 
voice of Kabanus. The cramping and shrinking 
of Alcuin's spirit is no longer here, and in such a 
passage as this Rabanus when compared with him 
seems a giant. The book then goes on to explain 
the spirit and method of studying the Scriptures, 
closely following the treatise of Augustine On 
Christian Doctrine.^ 

I De Clericoirum Institutione, m, cap. 15, at the end. 


Beginning at the sixteenth chapter, eleven succes- 
sive chapters are devoted to secular learning, a sepa- 
rate one being assigned to each of the seven liberal 
arts. Kabanus first distinguishes between the fun- 
damentally true things of ancient secular learning 
and the false inventions which were attached to it. 
Such were all magic arts, the worship of idols, the 
taking of omens, astrological calculations, and the 
other varieties of "pernicious superstition." On 
the other hand the body of human learning, which 
is so needful for our life here below, is by no 
means to be despised by a Christian. Nay, he 
insists, it should be "studied and held firmly in 
mind," and whoso does this will understand, the 
more he studies, that the whole of truth taken as 
one redounds to the "honor and love of one God."* 
His following account of the liberal arts separately 
is of distinct interest. Grammar he defines as 
"the science of interpreting the poets and his- 
torians, and the art of correct writing and speak- 
ing. It is the foundation of the liberal arts." 
Alcuin had confined grammar to the explanation 
of how to write and speak correctly. Eabanus 
adds to this narrow formal side the literary side, 
which was included in the broader definition of the 
Roman grammarians, and thereby rescues it from 
the barrenness to which it had been reduced by the 
treatment of Alcuin. However, he extols the 
Christian against the classical poets, and cites 

1 Ad tinius Dei laudem atque dilectionem concta convertere. 
m, cap. 17. 


Juvencus, Sedulius, Arator, Alcimus, Clement, 
Paulinus, and Fortunatus^ as "writers of famous 
books." He allows with restriction the reading of 
classical poets, mainly for the sake of their " flowers 
of eloquence." " And so when we read the heathen 
poets, and the books of secular wisdom come into 
our hands," he writes by way of general conclusion, 
"let us turn to our own instruction whatever we 
find useful in them; but if there be anything 
superfluous concerning idols or love or the care of 
secular things," all such passages are to be passed 
by or expunged. 

The chapter on rhetoric contains little of special 
note, but the next one on dialectics is important. 
"Dialectics," according to his definition, "is the 
rational discipline concerned with definitions and 
explanations, and able even to separate truth from 
falsehood." Such an utterance is in marked con- 
trast with Alcuin, who would never have counte- 
nanced so bold and sweeping an assertion of the 
sufficiency of dialectics as a means of discerning 
between truth and error; but Rabanus waxes very 
bold and asserts further that "this is accordingly 
the discipline of disciplines. It teaches us how to 
teach and how to learn. In this Reason reveals 
herself, and shows clearly what she is, what she 
means and what she perceives. This discipline 
alone knows how to know, and is both willing 
and able to make others know. For when we 

1 It is interesting to notice that all these i>oet8 are in Alcmn's 
list of the books at York. See pages 34 and 35. 


reason with it, we learn what we are and whence 
we are. We understand the difference between a 
good-doer and a good deed, between a creator and 
a creature. We investigate truth; we fasten on 
error. By this we reason and discern between what 
follows and what does not follow; what is incon- 
sistent, what is true, and what is probable, as well 
as what is thoroughly false." 

While Eabanus cannot be credited, as some have 
supposed, with an important advance on Boethius 
and with consciously opening up the dialectical 
activity of the early Middle Ages, it is yet true that 
his enthusiastic commendation of dialectics was 
influential in preparing the way for the reign of 
logic later. ^ Of course such a weapon as Kabanus 
defined dialectics to be, must have eminent value 
for the Church. " Wherefore," he says, "the clergy 
ought to know this most noble art and to have its 
laws constantly before them in meditation, that 
they may be able to penetrate with subtlety into the 
craftiness of the heretics, and confute their opin- 
ions by the magical conclusions of syllogisms." 
His speculative contemporary, Scotus Erigena, 
could have asked little more. Yet Rabanus guards 
himself by distinguishing between what he calls 
sophisms and truths. "There are true modes," he 
says, " of connecting not only true but even false 

1 So aiisserte die Schule welche Hrabanus bekanntlich in 
Fulda eingerichtet liatte . . . auch auf den Betrieb der Logik 
einen hochst giinstigen Einfluss. — Prantl, Geschichte der Logik^ 


opinions. Now, these true modes of connection 
may be learned in the schools which are outside 
the Church, but the truth of opinions is to be stud- 
ied in the holy books of the Church." The forms 
of logic may be learned outside, but the substance 
of truth necessary for arriving at a sound conclu- 
sion can be learned only in books of the Church. 
And here, after all, is where his use of dialectics 
differs from that of Erigena. Eabanus would never 
have approved using Plato and Martianus Capella 
for substance of doctrine equal in value with Script- 
ure, as Erigena did. And he was consistent, for after 
once asserting that the Scriptures are the highest 
form of truth and that other truths are to be inter- 
preted in their light, the material for his reasoning 
was unchangeably defined and estimated in advance. 
After thus treating grammar, rhetoric, and dialec- 
tics, he proceeds to describe the four remaining arts, 
which he includes, following a common custom, 
under the general name of mathematics. The first 
of the four is arithmetic, " the study of numerical 
quantity," pure and simple. It is, as he shows, the 
fundamental "mathematical discipline," without 
knowledge of which neither music, nor geometry, 
nor astronomy can be pursued. A Christian is not to 
despise this secular study, for does not Josephus, 
that most learned Jew, relate how Abraham was the 
first to deliver both the arithmetical and astronomi- 
cal art to the Egyptians? The seed of this knowl- 
edge, which the father of the faithful sowed among 
them, they cultivated and also developed therefrom 


the other disciplines. Then, too, the Church fathers 
strongly commend the study of arithmetic, inas- 
much as it abstracts the mind from carnal desires 
by leading it to abstract meditation. Scripture, 
too, commends the study in many places. God 
himself made the world "by measure and weight 
and number," as we read in the Book of Wisdom. 
Nay, more : " the very hairs of our head are num- 
bered," as the gospel explicitly asserts. Then 
there are the writings of Plato, "of great author- 
ity," though less than Scripture, which represent 
to us the Creator building the universe according 
to numerical harmonies and proportions. Another 
consideration is to be found in the mystical signifi- 
cance of particular numbers mentioned in Scrip- 
ture. "Thus," says Eabanus, "six is a perfect 
number, for did not God make the world in six 
days?" And yet he audaciously observes: "We 
are not to say that the number six is perfect because 
God accomplished his work of creation in six days, 
but that he accomplished the work in six days 
because six is a perfect number. Nay, even if his 
work had not been finished in six days, yet would 
the number still be a perfect one." Now, the Bible 
is really a sealed book to many because of their 
ignorance of arithmetic. "Wherefore," he writes, 
"it is needful, if any one would arrive at the 
knowledge of Holy Scripture, that he should study 
this art intently, so that when he has learned it he 
may the easier understand the mystical numbers in 
the sacred books." Alcuin would have commended 


heartily this exposition of arithmetic in general. 
Yet in two respects it departs from Alcuin, foi 
Plato is quoted as "of great authority," though 
with some reserve, and a " perfect number " is rep- 
resented as something regulative of the activity 
of God himself. Thus already in the barren field 
of arithmetic, as well as in dialectics, the shoots of 
speculation were beginning to spring up. 

The account of geometry indicates that Rabanus 
had been reading one of Erigena's favorite books, 
the Latin translation by Chalcidius of the TimcBus 
of Plato. "The philosophers," he says, "testify 
in their writings that Jupiter geometrizes." He 
prudently remarks that, " if this saying be applied 
wisely to God, the omnipotent Creator, it may per- 
haps be congruent with truth ; for geometry, if we 
may be allowed to say so, has a holy divinity of its 
own, inasmuch as it imposes its various forms and 
models on creation, and maintains it in existence up 
to the present day." The courses of the stars and 
the "fixed linear" (statutis lineis) constitution of 
bodies in motion or at rest are cited as examples of 
the sancta divinitas of geometry. Its origin as an 
art is referred to the Egyptians, and Varro, "the 
most learned of the Latins," is cited to prove that 
geometry began with mensuration. A considera- 
tion which makes it acceptable to a Christian is, 
that it was used in building the tabernacle and 
the temple, in constructing which there was evi- 
dent need "of the measurement of the line, the 
circle, the sphere, the hemisphere, and also of the 


quadrangle." Lastly, "an acquaintance with all 
geometrical figures is of help towards spiritual 

Music is defined as " the discipline which treats 
of the numbers which pertain to it, that is, of those 
which occur in sounds." "One sound," for exam- 
ple, " is the double, the treble, or the quadruple of 
another." Music is so useful that without it the 
church service cannot be fully performed, inasmuch 
as not only pleasant modulation in singing but 
proper pronunciation in reading call for musical 
skill. It is also noble as well as useful. For 
" the heaven and the earth and all that are in them 
are ruled by harmony, Pythagoras testifying that 
the world was created according to the harmonies 
of music, and is governed by the same." Pythag- 
oras, however, is not the only authority. The art 
of music is blended with the Christian religion, 
and ignorance of music is an impediment to faith. 
Ko heed is to be paid to the heathen superstitions 
which make the Muses daughters of Jove. The 
learned Varro, a heathen himself, has refuted this 
notion, showing that Jove was not the father of the 
Muses. But whether Varro's opinion be true or 
not makes little difference, "for we ought not to 
avoid music, the art of the Muses, because of pro- 
fane superstitions, so long as it is possible to extract 
from it useful help for understanding Holy 
Scripture." The folly of such a course would be 
as great as a refusal to learn letters because the 
heathen said Mercury was the god of letters, or to 


refuse to practice justice and virtue because they 
dedicated temples to Justice and Virtue. " On the 
contrary," says Rabanus, echoing Augustine, "let 
every good and true Christian know that all truth, 
wherever he finds it, belongs to his Lord." 

The exposition of astronomy, which next follows, 
is lighted up with an enthusiasm almost as great 
as appears in the account of dialectics. His open- 
ing statement is impressive. "If we pursue this 
study with chastened and moderate spirit, it will, 
as the ancients say, fill our thoughts with deep and 
reverent love. How great a thing it is to approach in 
spirit to the heavens, — to explore all their supernal 
mechanism by rational investigation, and by lofty 
intellectual insight to observe anywhere and every- 
where the veiled secrets of their vast greatness ! " 
How feeble and poverty-stricken, in the light of 
such a conception as this, is the interminable astro- 
nomical correspondence of Alcuin, which makes 
of astronomy a cumbrous machine for calculating 
the church feasts ! Not that Rabanus refuses the 
determination of the church calendar a place in 
astronomy. On the contrary, he expressly includes 
it therein. But astronomy is far more to him. It 
is the study of the " law of the stars, which know 
not either how to move or stop other wise than as 
the Creator has ordained." 

The seven arts have now passed in review. 
"Here," he says, "are the seven liberal arts of 
the philosophers." The "seven liberal arts"! It 
is apparently the first instance in history of the 


use of the term. Christianity has at last suc- 
ceeded after centuries in converting the artes 
liberales of the ancients into the septem artes liber- 
ales. The change of feeling from antagonism to 
toleration, and then into friendly regard, slowly 
outworking in Western Christendom from the time 
of Augustine and Cassiodorus onward, ends with 
the adoption of the liberal arts and the concurrent 
prefixing of a Christian name to them. So in 
closing his account Rabanus commends them in 
general as "useful for all Christians." He goes 
even farther, and adds that "anything the phi- 
losophers have written that is true and agreeable to 
faith, especially the Platonic philosophers" (he 
was not always quite ready to say Plato) " is not to 
be viewed with alarm, but to be taken from them 
for our own use." By way of further enforcement, 
he repeats what Augustine had said about taking 
the gold and the silver of the Egyptians and avoid- 
ing their superstitions* and idolatry. As a final 
and supreme caution, he reminds those who have 
been instructed in the liberal arts to approach the 
higher study of the Scriptures ever remembering 
the apostolic watchword, Scientia inflat, charitas 
mdijkat " (" knowledge puffeth up, but love build- 

The rest of the work is devoted to miscellaneous 
instruction on the art of speaking wisely and elo- 
quently, with special reference to preaching. His 
remarks in the thirtieth chapter on the need of 
using language easily comprehended when speaking 

148 AliCUIN 

to the people " miglit well have been inscribed in 
letters of gold on every pulpit from his own to the 
present day." * They might equally well be in- 
scribed on every teacher's desk. " Although a good 
teacher," he says, "ought to be so careful in his 
teaching that he will not consider an obscure or 
ambiguous word to be good Latin, still, while avoid- 
ing ambiguities and obscurities, let him speak after 
the fashion of the people, and not as the educated but 
as the uneducated speak. For of what value is that 
excellence of expression which the intellect of the 
hearer does not follow and which they do not under- 
stand to whom we are speaking in order that they 
may understand? Therefore, let him who teaches 
avoid all words that do not teach. ^ So then, if he 
can find other excellent words which will be under- 
stood, let him choose such; but if he cannot, either 
because there are no such words or because they 
do not occur to him at the time, let him use words 
that are less excellent, provided only the thing 
itself be taught and learned excellently." His 
reasons are no less sensible than his injunctions. 
"We must insist on being understood,"' he says, 
" not only when we converse with one or a few per- 
sons, but much more when we speak in public, for 
in conversation every one has an opportunity to 
question us, but where all sit in silence listening 

1 Mullinger, Schools of Charles the Great, p. 145. 
3 Qui ergo docet, vitabit verba omnia quae non docent. m, 
cap. 30. 

' Ut intelligamur instandum est. Ill, cap. 30. 


to one speaker, it is neither right nor decent to 
hold any auditor responsible for what he has not 
understood. For this reason he who speaks ought 
to make it his care to help him who silently lis- 
tens. Now, an audience that is anxious to learn 
is apt to show by its own behavior whether 
it really understands or not. Until it does 
understand we should keep presenting the point 
at issue in various ways. Those who teach only 
what they have prepared and committed word by 
word to memory have not the power to accomplish 
this. Then when it is clear that the point is 
understood, continue the discourse and pass to the 
other points, for as he who makes clear what we 
wish to know is an acceptable teacher, so he 
becomes burdensome when inculcating what we 
already know."^ 

There is a statement in Trithemius,' a late biogra- 
pher of Kabanus, that he wrote while a youth PrcB- 
paramenta, or hand-books of the seven liberal arts 
"in many volumes." In the writings which have 
come to us, however, there are only two treatises 
on separate arts, and it is not certain that they are 
part of the Prceparamenta mentioned by Trithemius. 
However, as treatises on two of the arts, they may 
be noticed here. One is entitled An Excerpt on the 
Grammatical Art of Priscian. It consists of extracts 
from the grammar of Priscian copied bodily with- 

1 Sicnt enim gratns est qui agnoscenda enubilat, sic onerosus, 
qui cognita inculcat. Ill, cap. 30. 

3 Migne, Patrologia Latina, CVII, 103. 

150 ALCUm 

out indication of any authorship on the part of 
Rabanus, apart from a short poem added at the 
end. The other treatise is entitled On Reckoning 
(Computus), and consists of ninety-six short chap- 
ters. It is the work of Eabanus, and was written 
in the year 820. Like some of Alcuin's writings, 
it is cast in the form of a dialogue between a 
master and his pupil. Augustine, Boethius, and 
Isidore are quoted in it, but Bede is the author 
most used in its preparation. The first eight chap- 
ters deal with the importance of numbers, the 
definition of the term " number " itself, the different 
kinds of numbers, treated grammatically rather than 
mathematically, — numbers being defined as cardi- 
nal, ordinal, adverbial, distributive, multiple, and 
" denuntiative." Then follow the two different reck- 
onings, by letters and on the fingers. Notation is 
given both according to the Greek and the Roman 
numeral letters while the finger-reckoning de- 
scribed is one of the curiosities in educational his- 
tory. The method of counting with the fingers is 
explained as follows: On the left hand there are 
three fingers, the little finger {auricularis),the fourth 
finger (medicus), and the third finger (impudicus) . 
Accordingly the digits from one to nine can be 
counted by beginning with bending the little finger 
toward the palm, and so proceeding to make other 
number-gestures in sequence with the three fingers. 
Besides the three fingers mentioned, there are the 
index fins^er and the thumb, and by various flex- 
ions of these the tens are indicated from ten to 


ninety, so that with the left hand alone every 
number short of one hundred could be counted. 
Then there is the right hand, where the counting 
begins with the thumb and the index finger, and 
then proceeds to the three other fingers, — just the 
reverse of the method used in counting on the left 
hand. The right-hand thumb and finger are used 
by various flexions to indicate the hundreds from 
one hundred to nine hundred, and the three other 
fingers on the right hand are used similarly to 
indicate the thousands from one thousand to nine 
thousand. Thus, if the two hands be spread out, 
palms down, units will be reckoned from the left 
on the little finger, the fourth finger, and the third 
finger of the left hand ; tens will be reckoned on 
the index finger and thumb of the left hand; hun- 
dreds on the thumb and index finger of the right 
hand; thousands on the other three fingers of the 
right hand. Accordingly, the two hands taken 
together could be used to count up to any number 
short of ten thousand. This notation by finger 
flexion was extended still further by placing the 
left hand in various ways on different parts of the 
body, and so counting by tens of thousands, from 
ten thousand to ninety thousand; and in the same 
way the right hand when placed opposite corre- 
sponding parts of the body enabled counting to be 
done by the hundred-thousand, from one hundred 
thousand up to nine hundred thousand. An exam- 
ple or two of this barbarous method may be given. 
"When you say one," observes the master to his 


pupil, "bend the little finger on the left hand 
slightly inward and place it in the palm." "When 
you say ten, put the tip of the index finger against 
the middle of the thumb." Of course, eleven would 
be counted by doing both of these at once or in 
succession. In the same way a hundred is indi- 
cated on the right hand by putting the tip of the 
index finger against the middle of the thumb, just 
as ten was counted on the left hand. A thousand 
is indicated with the little finger of the right hand 
as one was indicated with the little finger of the left 
hand. Any number short of ten thousand could 
therefore be counted by the two hands without refer- 
ence to the other parts of the body. For numbers 
from ten thousand upwards, a different method is 
used, as mentioned above. Ten thousand is indicated 
by placing the left hand flat on the breast, but with 
the fingers pointing upwards ; and twenty thousand, 
with the same hand spread out flat across the chest; 
sixty thousand, with the same hand flat against the 
left thigh. The hundred-thousands are indicated 
in a similar manner with the right hand. Conse- 
quently, by a series of gestures any number short 
of a million may be indicated. The two hands 
clasped together in front, with the fingers inter- 
twined, is the gesture for a million, which is the 
highest number of this digital reckoning. That 
such a system of gesture-numbers should have 
been deemed worthy of record and explanation 
by Rabanus for the benefit of the monks at Fulda 
is sad evidence of the crass ignorance that was 


prevalent. Counting on the fingers, the mode of 
reckoning in vogue among the lowest savages, 
awkward, cumbrous, devoid of any but the rudest 
intellectual quality, has often been characteristic 
of tribes which were never able to emerge from 
their barbarism. Whenever, therefore, we are 
tempted to look with contempt at the childishness 
of the best men of the early Middle Ages in their 
attempts to humanize and christianize the Saxon 
or the Frank, let the character of the material on 
which they were working be duly considered, and 
then their childishness is seen to be wisdom, because 
they essayed to do only what could be done in the 
circumstances. Or, as Rabanus might have put it 
himself, " They taught in the words that teach, not 
in those which do not teach." 

The rest of his book on reckoning deals with the 
Roman divisions of weights, namely, the pound 
{libra), containing twelve ounces (uncice), each 
ounce containing twenty-four scruples (scripult), 
and each scruple in turn containing six siliquoe. 
He remarks that these names for weights may be 
applied not only to the varieties of money, but to 
divisions of time as well. He is in need of some- 
thing to serve the purpose of fractions, and yet, like 
Alcuin, has no notion of what a fraction is. It is 
interesting. to notice, however, that the sub-divis- 
ions of weights and measures are made on the scale 
of six or twelve, that is, are duodecimal, whereas 
the notation he described for integers was decimal. 
The divisions of time which occupy several chap* 

154 ALCUm 

ters are odd enough. The smallest element of time 
is called the "atom." There are said to be three 
hundred seventy-six atoms in one "ostentum," 
which corresponds with our minute. The ostentum 
in turn is the sixtieth part of the hour, and one 
and one-half hours are called a "moment." The 
word "minute" occurs in Rabanus, but it means 
the tenth part of an hour, and the "point" is a 
quarter of an hour. Furthermore, "the hour is 
the twelfth part of a day," he continues, "for our 
Lord asserts this, saying, 'Are there not twelve 
hours in the day? ' " The rest of the book is 
devoted to the parts of the year, the calendar in 
general, the phenomena of the sun, moon and 
planets, with the method of calculating Easter, in- 
cluding a singular method of calculating the lunar 
epact on the joints of the hand and closing remarks 
on the ages of the world's history. The Computiis 
contains no examples in arithmetic, so that it is 
impossible to compare it intelligently with Alcuin's 
arithmetical propositions. It is to be regarded not 
as a formal treatise on arithmetic, but as a hand- 
book of reckoning, including numbers, weights, and 
measures, the divisions of time, and so much as- 
tronomy as related to the general appearance of the 
sky, and the calculation of the church calendar. 

In connection with his writings on the liberal 
arts it will be appropriate to notice the Latin- 
Tudesque Glossary attributed to him. It professes 
to be written down by his pupil, Walafrid Strabo, 
presumably from dictation. It contains less than 


two hundred Latin words, some of which are defined 
in Latin and others are given with their Tudesque 
equivalents. They are the names of the parts of 
the human body, and at the end are added the 
names of the months and the winds, in both lan- 
guages. It is interesting as showing the incipient 
recognition of the vulgar languages on the part of 
the learned, and more especially the interest felt 
by Rabanus in the early German tongue. Even in 
Alcuin's time Latin was being pronounced in a 
barbarized fashion, which pointed to its coming 
fate. Rabanus had exhorted those who were to 
preach to speak so that the people could under- 
stand, and not to insist on learned propriety of 
expression. In this glossary he goes a step far- 
ther, and compiles a short list of words in frequent 
use in Latin with their vulgar Tudesque equiv- 
alents. Many of them have the lineaments 
of modern German. Thus the Latin os (mouth) 
is the Tudesque mund; the Latin jecur (liver) is 
lebera. For the Latin pes (foot) we have an 
approximation to the German /wss in the Tudesque 

Rabanus is also credited with a short tract On the 
Origin of Languages.^ Some of it is taken from 
Jerome. It contains, with comments, a Hebrew, a 
Greek and a Latin alphabet, with the sound of each 
letter indicated in Roman letters. Omega in Greek, 
for example, is called "o longa." Then comes a 

1 Migne, CXII, 1575. 

> J)e Jnventione Linguarum, Migne, CXII, 1580. 


supposed Scythian alphabet, which is briefly de- 
scribed and attributed to Jerome. Rabanus does not 
seem to be very sure that he understands it, for he 
says naively to his readers : " If we have committed 
any mistakes in this alphabet or any faults in the 
others, do you correct them." Then comes the 
alphabet used by the Marcomanni, " whom we call 
the Northmen, and from whom the tribes who speak 
the Tudesque language are descended." Following 
this are abbreviations for Roman proper names and 
the so-called Notod Coesaris, or "Marks of Caesar," 
that is, combinations of dots used instead of vowels 
in Roman inscriptions. Last of all are some mono- 
grams of Scriptural names. As an essay in phi- 
lology, there is, of course, nothing to be said about 
it. At best, it may pass for a hand-book of alpha- 
bets, useful for scribes, though probably not for 
general instruction in schools. 

Passing by his treatise On the Soul,^ which has 
only indirect educational bearings, there remains 
for consideration his encyclopedia of all knowledge, 
entitled On the Universe.^ It was written about the 
year 844, after he had retired from the abbey of 
Fulda and gone into retreat at Petersberg. For the 
composition of such a work he naturally resorted 
to the huge Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, who 
had given the Middle Ages its first encyclopedia 
in twenty elaborate books. Following the example 
of Isidore, who had plundered the classical writers 

1 De Anima, Migne, CX, 1109. 
* De Universo, Migne, CXI, 9-614. 


to construct his book very much as Eomans in the 
Middle Ages plundered the Coliseum to build their 
houses, Kabanus in turn takes most of his book from 
Isidore, omitting the account of the liberal arts 
he had written of elsewhere, expanding Isidore's 
statements in places, borrowing also from Bede 
in his chapter on chronology, from Lactantius for 
the account of the Sibyls, and from Jerome for the 
geography of Palestine and the explanation of 
Hebrew names. But, instead of elaborating his 
work in twenty books, as did Isidore, Eabanus had 
enough matter for twenty-two. Now, although 
twenty-two was not a sacred number, he was still 
fortunate enough to chance on the fact that Jerome 
had divided the whole of the Old Testament into 
twenty -two books, thus furnishing him with a ven- 
erable, if not a sacred precedent. It is a dreary 
enough task to read continuously such a work, but, 
without some understanding of both the scope and 
diversity of its contents, it is difficult to appreciate 
what was the sum of knowledge of that time, or 
the attitude of mind which an educator had to 
encounter. An exhibition of its contents is a 
decided help towards appreciating the confused 
medley of general information, at best taken at 
second or third hand, which was then accepted un- 
questioningly as the body of settled truth. It is 
also a help in the same way towards appreciating 
the untrained and credulous condition of mind 
which characterized not alone the uneducated but 
even the clergy. Against such a backgroxind of 


general misinformation how brightly does even the 
slightest light shine! and how real is the contrast 
between Rabanus, foolish as much of his writing 
was, and the age he was attempting to educate ! 

But let us examine his encyclopedia. The 
twenty -two books fall into two parts, the first five 
dealing with sacred and the other seventeen with 
secular knowledge. In spite of the apparent con- 
fusion, there is a thread of logical continuity which 
holds the work together. Thus the order of sub- 
jects in the first five books is as follows: God, 
then his creatures, celestial and terrestrial ; that is 
to say, angels and men. The account of the men 
is confined to the Bible. Accordingly, first comes 
Adam, with the other antediluvians following, 
then the patriarchs with other notable Old Testa- 
ment men and women, and then the prophets, 
followed by New Testament persons and the mar- 
tyrs. Next comes an account of the Church, with 
chapters on the Church and the synagogue, religion 
and faith, the clergy, the monks, and other orders 
of the faithful, heresy and schism, definitions 
relating to the true faith and church doctrine, and 
account of the Scriptures, embracing some notice 
of the authorship of each book, with a summary of 
tiie contents. Then, by an odd but not unnatural 
digression, we have a chapter on libraries, and 
"The Diversity of Literary Works." This "diver- 
sity" relates to kinds of treatises that may be 
written, the various parts of a discourse, the divi- 
sion into chapters and verses, and the material 


make-up of books. Then follows a chapter on 
the "canons of the Gospels," being a list of ten 
patristic harmonies of the Gospels, followed by 
other chapters on the decrees of the church coun- 
cils, the Easter cycle, the canonical divisions of 
the day and the appropriate duties attached 
thereto, with closing chapters on sacrifices, sacra- 
ments, exorcisms, creeds, prayer and fasting, con- 
fession and penance. With this account of God, 
his creatures, his Church, and the Scriptures, the 
first five books close, the exposition of secular 
knowledge beginning with the sixth book. 

The sixth book is on "Man and his Parts," that 
is to say, on human nature, and the various " parts " 
or functions of the soul and body, explained liter- 
ally, mystically and allegorically, all with proper 
Scripture proof -texts. It includes also an explana- 
tion of the various postures and movements of the 
body. Standing is thus symbolical of belief, for 
the Apostle says, " Stand fast in the faith." The 
closing chapter of the book is devoted to the parts 
of the human body which in Scripture are said to 
be parts of the devil's body. Among them are the 
eyes, nostrils, tongue, mouth, bones, and even a 
tail, inasmuch as "he swingeth his tail like a 

The seventh book is a sort of sequel to the sixth, 
dealing with the periods of human life, the various 
degrees of relationship by marriage, with two 
chapters on monstrosities, such as the fauns, the 
satyrs, the giants, the dog-headed men, Cerberus 


and the Chimaera, and on "herds and beasts of 
burden," that is, the domestic animals. 

The eighth book is zoological. It first gives an 
account of wild beasts in general, starting out with 
lions, panthers, pards, leopards, tigers, wolves, 
foxes, dogs, apes, " and all other animals that prey 
either with teeth or claws, excepting serpents." 
Every beast in the list has its natural description, 
and a special mystical meaning as well. The 
spotted pard, to take one example from many, is 
rich in significance. It "mystically signifies the 
devil, who is full of manifold wickedness." Again 
it typifies " the sinner covered with the spots of sin 
and of divers errors. Hence the prophet says, 
' The pard cannot change his spots. ' " It is also 
connected with the millennium, "when 'the pard 
shall lie down with the kid. ' " And it stands for 
Antichrist, the beast in the Apocalypse, "which 
ascended from the sea, like unto a pard. " After 
the wild beasts the "minute animals" are de- 
scribed. Such are crickets, frogs, ants, mice, 
moles and hedgehogs. The mole, condemned to 
perpetual blindness and darkness, is an emblem 
of idolatry. Among the ants enumerated is a 
kind said to be in Ethiopia, in shape like a dog. 
This dog-ant "digs up golden sands with its 
feet and keeps guard over them, lest any one steal 
the sand." Frogs are briefly described, and then 
spiritually stigmatized as " demons " and " heretics 
which cease not their vain and garrulous croaking." 
Separate chapters follow on serpents, worms^ fishes 


and birds. Then comes a description of the " mi- 
nute birds." Some of these "birds" are flies. 
Others are bees, wasps, locusts and ants, each of 
them having a mystical significance. The bee sig- 
nifies wisdom, and the locust has various meanings. 
The fly and the mouse are said to have come origi- 
nally from Greece. Flies, moreover, "after they 
have been killed in water, will revive within the 
space of an hour." 

The ninth book is devoted to the world in gen- 
eral, its elements, the various planets, stars, and 
constellations, and the phenomena of the atmos- 
phere. Atoms are fully defined, and the four ele- 
ments out of which everything has been made. 
Then follows a general description of the heavens 
and the two " doors " of heaven, namely, the east, 
the west, because the sun enters by one and leaves 
by the other. Then there are the two cardines, or 
" turning-points, " north and south. After a chapter 
on light and another on celestial luminaries in gen- 
eral, there is a description of the sun, moon, stars, 
and some of the constellations, with one on the 
morning and another on the evening star. The rest 
of the book deals with the air, clouds, thunder and 
lightning, and other "coruscations," the rainbow, 
fire, frost, coals, ashes, wind, breezes and calm 
weather, whirlwinds and tempests. The book as 
a whole is thus astronomical in its first part and in 
the last part is meteorological. The tenth book is 
on chronology, or " divisions of time." The eleventh 
book, entitled "On the Diversity of Waters," is 


aquatic throughout. Waters are classified in part 
as salt, fresh, bituminous and sulphurous, and the 
curative or magical virtues of the many springs 
and streams are expatiated upon. Then comes a 
description of various bodies of water, such as the 
ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the 
"abyss," bays and straits, lakes and pools, tor- 
rents and whirlpools, with chapters on rain and 
the two kinds of raindrops (stilla, the falling drop, 
and gutta, the fallen drop) ; the book closing with 
explanations of snow, ice, frost, hail, dew, mist 
and deluges. The twelfth and thirteenth books are 
occupied with a general geography of the earth. 
There is a chapter on paradise, and another on the 
" regions of the earth, " which contains detailed topo- 
graphical, historical and other descriptive mention 
of the various tribes and countries of the earth. 
Rabanus then proceeds to define and describe 
islands, promontories, mountains, hills, valleys, 
plains and forests. He closes the book with an 
account of " various places " of geographical char- 
acter. First come " scriptural places, " then " stormy 
places," followed by the " lairs of wild beasts," and 
then groves and deserts. After these come " devious 
places, " " pleasant places, " " sunny places, " " warm 
places," "ship-building places," and lastly "slip- 
pery places." Last of all comes his account of 
shores, caves, chasms, "depths," "the pit," the 
site of Erebus and of the River Cocytus in the 
under world. 

The fourteenth book is on "public buildings," 


but includes private dwellings under it. It is a 
manual of domestic and public architecture of the 
ancients, with full spiritual interpretation. The 
fifteenth book is on the philosophy, poetry and 
mythology of the ancients. The sixteenth book 
may be described as a sort of ethnology or soci- 
ology, as it contains an account of various nations 
of men, their languages, their forms of government, 
with definitions of civil and military terms. The 
seventeenth book is on " the dust and soil of the 
earth," that is to say, on minerals and metals. 
There is first the " soil found in waters," as salt and 
pitch. The "common stones" are next described. 
Such are "rock," "cliffs," flint, gypsum, sand 
and lime. Then come the "distinguished stones," 
such as jet, asbestus and selenite, the Persian moon- 
stone, whose brightness " is said to wax and wane 
with the moon." Higher yet come the marbles and 
ivory, which are assigned separate chapters. After 
them there is a chapter on precious stones, followed 
by others on pearls, crystals and glass. The seven 
metals — gold, silver, brass, electrum, tin, lead and 
iron — conclude the book. 

The eighteenth book deals with weights, meas- 
ures, numbers, and musical and medical terms. 
The nineteenth is agricultural and botanical, de- 
scribing in succession the various grains, legumi- 
nous plants, vines, trees, aromatic herbs and the 
common vegetables. The twentieth describes wars, 
and the different kinds of armor, the various 
athletic games, ship-building and blacksmithing. 

164 ALCUm 

The twenty-first deals with the domestic arts of 
house-building, carpentering, weaving and spin- 
ning, and explains fully the costumes of various 
nations and the kinds of garments worn by men 
and women. The twenty-second details the various 
household utensils and tools, beginning with tables, 
eating and drinking vessels, going on to kitchen 
utensils, baskets, lamps, couches and chairs, and 
ending with garden tools and harness. 

What a mass and a mess it all is ! It falls behind 
the etymologies of Isidore in point of arrangement 
and divisions of the material. It is, moreover, 
somewhat weakened and diluted. Yet it is not 
without a general plan. He has, moreover, added 
to Isidore's work much concrete information that 
was useful for his time — no doubt more useful 
then than Isidore's would have been. Taken with 
the other educational writings of Rabanus, it gives 
a completeness to his activity as an educational 
author which is proof of his sagacity ; for he not 
only furnished the men of his time with methods 
and subjects on the formal side of education, buL 
met their empty ignorance with a vast collection 
of the most useful common information that was 
accessible to him, and so became the teacher of his 
time both in regard to the substance of its secular 
knowledge as well as on the side of method, thus 
extending his labors far beyond the limits within 
which Alcuin had worked. 



What Alcuin had been to the whole of Frank- 
land Rabanus was specifically to Germany, and, 
though his influence is discernible separately from 
the influence of his master, the two soon blended 
and carried forward for generations the educa- 
tional tradition of Western Europe. The strength 
of the movement was at times centred in one or 
a few places and at others dispersed in many. As 
the main stream of learning had flowed from 
York to Tours and from Tours to Fulda, so it is 
again visible later as it passes from Fulda to 
Auxerre, touching Ferrieres, old and new Corbie, 
Reichenau, St. Gall, and Rheims, one branch of it 
finally reaching Paris. And yet the stream did 
not run unbroken, but with parallel lesser currents 
and connecting cross-streams, so that its general 
widening progress is as diversified as the fan-like 
sweep of a gulf-stream in the ocean, and can only 
be rightly measured by taking into account its en- 
tire extent. If the current was sometimes parted, 
it was not because the stream did not flow from 
one source, and if some places were touched only 
momentarily or left untouched altogether, it was 
because its volume was not vast enough to over* 


166 ALCUm 

spread the whole surface on which it flowed. And 
yet the influence of Alcuin is not easy to trace. 
There were no new institutions founded on the 
model of his teaching after his death, and, even 
in the institutions which had existed, the career of 
learning was irregular and fluctuating. Schools 
died out and were again revived in their old places, 
sometimes to continue for a time in power, some- 
times to linger feebly or else to expire finally. 
Even the palace school of Charles entered on a 
career of fitful activity, changing first from Alcuin 
to Erigena, and then undergoing other mutations, 
never utterly extinct, and yet without leaving 
behind any continuous record of its doings. There- 
fore, instead of seeking to gather conclusions from 
the imperfect records of the fluctuating fortunes 
of certain places where schools were held, a surer 
way is to trace Alcuin' s general influence through 
the succession of his immediate and remote pupils, 
for herein is to be seen the true inner continuity 
of education for a century and a half after his 
death, if not longer. 

Before doing this, some mention of Erigena is in 
place. The Irish teaching which had crept into 
the palace school and caused Alcuin such uncon- 
cealed anxiety shortly before his death received a 
new and strong impetus after he was gone. In 
814 Charles the Great died, and his son Lewis the 
Pious succeeded him. Soon after Lewis died the 
youthful king, Charles the Bald, made John Scotus 
Erigena master of the palace school about 845. 


Lewis had been careful to keep within the limits 
laid down by Alcuin, but his successor was of a 
different temper, and welcomed the acute and witty 
representative of the dangerous speculative learning 
that was so well fitted to shake unquestioning faith 
in tradition. John brought with him the pro- 
scribed Martianus Capella, and extended the influ- 
ence of this writer by composing a commentary. 
When appealed to by Hincmar of Eheims to come 
and help the orthodox faith with his pen, he did 
not hesitate to quote Greek as well as Latin fathers, 
and even heathen philosophers whenever conven- 
ient, as authorities fit to be cited side by side with 
Scripture ; while, as Mr. Mullinger aptly observes, 
"to fill up the measure of his offence, he referred 
with undisguised approval to the pages of Mar- 
tianus Capella." ^ The contest had set in between 
speculation and tradition, and could no longer be 
confined within the bounds Alcuin would have 
approved, and the new influence issuing from the 
teaching of Erigena, though at first resisted, after- 
wards gradually mingled with the old instruction 
given in the monasteries. 

But let us return to the more prominent of the 
later pupils who represent the influence of Alcuin, 
many of them through Rabanus. 

Servatus Lupus (805-862) was educated in the 
monastery of Ferrieres under Aldrich, the pupil of 
Alcuin. When Aldrich became archbishop of 
Sens, he despatched his pupil to Fulda, where he 

i Schools of Charles the Great, p. 186, 


studied under Eabanus, then at the height of his 
reputation. In 836, after a brilliant career as a 
student of letters, as well as in theology, he returned 
to Frankland. Aldrich died soon after, and Ser- 
vatus Lupus succeeded him in 842 as abbat of 
Ferrieres, where he taught with distinction, gath- 
ering about him numerous disciples and a consid- 
erable library, becoming himself the one purely 
literary man of his time and cultivating the classi- 
cal writers to an extent unheard of for centuries. 
While at Fulda he often repaired to Seligenstadt 
to consult Einhard, the biographer of Charles the 
Great, whose friendship he had made and who then 
ruled the abbey of Seligenstadt, where there were 
many books. Einhard's taste for letters and friend- 
ship for Servatus promoted his progress in study 
and thus supplemented the instruction of Fulda. 

Haymo, a fellow-pupil with Eabanus at Fulda 
and one of his companions later under the instruc- 
tion of Alcuin at Tours, returned from Tours to 
Fulda, where he taught in the school for some 
time. He left Fulda in 841, to become bishop of 
Halberstadt, and died in 853. 

Walafrid Strabo (born 807), after pursuing his 
first studies as a boy at the school of Eeichenau, 
on Lake Constance, was sent thence to Fulda to 
study under Eabanus. From Fulda he returned to 
Eeichenau, and, after directing the school of that 
abbey for several years, was elected its abbat in 
842. He transplanted thither the studies of Fulda, 
and to his repute as a teacher added considerable 


accomplishment as a poet. His fame was probably 
greater than his merit. His undisputed merit, 
however, consists in his extension of the teaching 
of his master. " Docuit multos " is the testimony 
of Rabanus himself, in the epitaph he composed 
for Walafrid, and indicates that his scholars were 
numerous enough to call for special mention. 

Eudolph (800?-866), a monk of Fulda, was both 
the pupil and biographer of Rabanus, succeeding 
him in the care of the abbey school. Though of 
course far inferior to his master, he was thought a 
man of great learning, and continued the methods of 
Eabanus, though with less ability. Ermenric, one 
of his scholars, who afterwards became abbat of 
EUwangen, testifies, in a work addressed to him, 
to the profundity of his erudition and his success 
as a teacher. 

Liutpert, the capable abbat of New Corbie, who 
died in 853, had also been a monk at Fulda, with 
Rabanus as the master of his studies. He also 
served as the first abbat of Hirschau, a community 
of monks who had gone out from Fulda by the 
commission of Rabanus. The monk Maginhard 
was also at Fulda about the same time. 

Paschasius Ratpert (died 865) retired from the 
world to the monastery of Corbie, then governed by 
Adelhard. He applied himself to study with such 
success as to be selected to instruct his fellow- 
pupils. Cicero and Terence were favorite writers 
with him before he had entered the monastery. 
His activity and diligence were marked. He 


accompanied Adelliard to found the abbey of New 
Corbie in Saxony. He taught many pupils, and 
among them the younger Adelhard, Anscharius, 
archbishop of Hamburg, Hildemann and Odo, 
each of whom became bishop of Beauvais, and 
Warin, later abbat of New Corbie. In 844, he was 
himself made abbat of old Corbie, where he died in 
865. His pupil, Odo of Beauvais, succeeded him 
as abbat. 

Among other monks of old Corbie who deserve 
mention was Ratramnus, whose knowledge of the 
arts was considerable and whose ecclesiastical 
reading embraced not only the Latin but the Greek 
fathers. He entered the monastery probably about 
the time Adelhard became its abbat, and died there, 
having passed all his life as a simple monk, with- 
out aspiring to any preferment. Among his friends 
were Servatus Lupus and Odo of Beauvais. Another 
monk of the monastery of New Corbie in Saxony, 
who may be connected with the influence of Alcuin 
and Rabanus, was Rembert, who was consecrated a 
monk by Anscharius, whom he succeeded as arch- 
bishop of Hamburg in 856. 

Passing notice may be given to Hilduin, the fel- 
low-pupil of Servatus Lupus and later abbat of St. 
Denis, who died in 840, and Ado (800?-875), 
archbishop of Vieime, who had been offered in 
youth to the monastery of Ferrieres by his parents, 
and was educated there under Servatus Lupus. 

Werembert (died 884) pursued his youthful stud- 
ies at Fulda under Rabanus Maurus, and then went 


to the important abbey of St. Gall. One of his 
fellow-students under Eabanus was Otfried of 
Weissenburg. Werembert was proficient, accord- 
ing to the chroniclers of his time, both in Latin and 
Greek, the fine arts, philosophy, poetry, music, 
and sculpture, as well as theology and history. 
We know little of his life beyond the fact that he 
was a monk of St. Gall and taught for a long time. 
Grimaldus, abbat of St. Gall, was educated in the 
monastery of Reichenau, where his education was 
touched by the influence of Alcuin and Rabanus 
through his friend Ermenric, the monk of Reich- 
enau, who had been a pupil of Walafrid Strabo. 
Harmot (died 884), a friend and fellow-pupil with 
Werembert, virtually governed the abbey of St. 
Gall even during the lifetime of Grimaldus. When 
Grimaldus died, Harmot was unanimously elected 
to succeed him. He was a writer of various treat- 
ises and also enriched the abbey library greatly. 

Three monks of St. Gall, closely connected by 
reason of their warm personal friendship for each 
other and their common distinction as scholars, 
were Ratbert, Notker, and Tutilo, who, though 
apparently not educated by teachers in the direct 
line of succession from Alcuin and Rabanus, were 
yet familiar with the writings of these masters. 
Of the three, Notker may be singled out for separate 
mention. He entered St. Gall as a pupil about 
840, and after a while became head of the inner 
school, the monastery then containing an inner 
school for the oblati, who were offered for mouastio 

172 ALCUm 

life, and an outer school for the extemi. In one of 
his commentaries he ranks the writings of Rabanus 
with Jerome, Augustine and Chrysostom, and in 
another work extols the grammar of Alcuin as 
eclipsing even that of Priscian himself. Among 
those touched by Notker's influence were Regino, 
the abbat of Prum, and Robert, bishop of Metz. 

Turning from St. Gall to Auxerre in Frankland, 
the influence of Alcuin and Rabanus again appears 
as a dominating impulse. 

Eric of Auxerre (about 834-881), when a boy, 
entered the monastery of St. Germain at Auxerre. 
After pursuing his early studies at that place he 
went to Fulda, where he was instructed by Haymo, 
and afterwards to Ferrieres, where Servatus Lupus 
was his master. When the period of his study 
under Servatus was completed he returned to 
Auxerre, and was given charge of the monastery 
school of St. Germain in that place. Among his 
pupils were Hucbald and the famous Remy of 

Hucbald (died about 930), the monk of St. 
Amand, was regarded as the leading teacher of his 
time next to Remy. He was a nephew of Milo, 
the Christian poet and student of both the liberal 
and fine arts, who had studied under a pupil of 
Alcuin. He pursued his earlier studies under the 
superintendence of his uncle, and then passed from 
St. Amand to the monastery of St. Germain at 
Auxerre, where he completed his course under Eric 
in company with Remy and other pupils of note. 


His proficiency in the arts was notable to such an 
extent that one of his eulogists asserts " he was so 
distinguished for his skill in the liberal arts, that 
he was compared with the ancient philosophers." 

The most famous teacher in Frankland, as the 
ninth century passed away and the tenth opened, 
was Remy of Auxerre. He early became a monk 
at the abbey of St. Germain, where his teacher 
was Eric of Auxerre, the pupil of Haymo and 
Servatus Lupus. Among his fellow-pupils was, 
as has been said, the celebrated Hucbald, the monk 
of Amand. On the death of Eric he succeeded to 
the charge of the school. Soon after he was called 
away in company with Hucbald by summons of 
Fulco, archbishop of Rheims, to re-establish the 
schools of that diocese which had fallen into decay. 
Eemy taught both the liberal arts and theology, and 
among his auditors was the archbishop himself. 
The scholars whom Remy taught and their suc- 
cessors continued the school at Rheims well through 
the tenth century, and among the later pupils of 
the school were the historian Frodoard, Abbo of 
Fleury, and Hildebold and Blidulph, two pupils 
of Remy himself who were influential in establish- 
ing schools in Lorraine. When Fulco died, Remy 
went from Rheims to Paris, where he established a 
public, not a monastic school, open to all and free 
from ecclesiastical rule. Here he taught philosophy 
and the liberal arts, as well as theology, expound- 
ing the treatise On the Categories then attributed 
to Augustine, and teaching the liberal arts gener- 

174 ALCUm 

ally witli Martianus Capella as the text-book, thus 
finally establishing that hitherto suspected author 
in a place of honor. To render Martianus more 
easily understood, he wrote an elaborate com- 
mentary. Out of this school, "the first cradle 
of the University of Paris, "^ came Odo, abbat of 
Cluny, the greatest pupil of Eemy. It is doubt- 
less true that Remy marks a new period in the 
revival of studies, and some have considered his 
influence comparable to that of Alcuin or Rabanus. 
Though this cannot be shown, it is yet fair to say, 
in the words of an old chronicler, that " the studies 
which had become obsolete for a long time began 
to flourish again under him, and indeed sprang up, 
as it were, newly born from his teaching." ^ Among 
his writings were commentaries on the grammarians, 
Donatus and Priscian, and a treatise on music, be- 
sides his already-mentioned exposition of Martianus 

Odo of Cluny (880-942) was offered by his parents 
while yet a child to the monastery of St. Martin 
at Tours, but did not at once become a monk. 
After passing his youth in secular life, he returned 
to Tours at the age of nineteen and became a canon 
of St. Martin. His marked taste for Virgil and 
the other ancient authors on the side of literature 
was supplemented by the study of Priscian on the 
side of grammar. He soon conceived a desire of 
studying the arts with more thoroughness and went 

1 Histoire LiUraire de la France, VI, p. 100. 

2 Histoire LiUraire de la France, VI, p. 101. 


from Tours to Paris, where Remy of Auxerre was 
giving public lectures. Under him Odo studied 
dialectics and music with special attention, and all 
the other liberal arts. On returning to Tours 
he is said, on uncertain authority, to have had 
charge of the abbey school. Soon after he resolved 
to renounce the world finally and give himself to 
monastic life. When in his thirtieth year he 
entered a monastery in Burgundy, taking with him 
"one hundred books," probably his whole library. 
After the death of the abbat in 927, Odo was elected 
to succeed him, and became not only the head of 
that monastery, but of the more important abbey of 
Cluny and others. He was influential in bringing 
about a general monastic reform in Frankland and 
in connection therewith the establishment of a 
large number of schools. One of these was the 
school at rieury. Another was revived in the 
abbey of Gorz, near Metz, whither many pupils of 
the school at Rheims went to form a learned monas- 
tic community. He also established instruction 
at the abbey of St. Julian of Tours, where he him- 
self spent some time. His reputation spread 
rapidly, and he was consulted by the pope and by 
princes, as Rabanus had been before. He made three 
journeys to Rome. His death occurred about 942. 
Such were the men who continued the influence 
of Alcuin and Rabanus down to the middle of the 
tenth century. They and their associates sat in the 
high places of education under the successors of 
Charles the Great. But they were not all, for 


history fails to preserve a record of their times 
with completeness. It is, therefore, only fair to 
presume that they embody less than the full influ- 
ence of the movement started by Alcuin, though 
undoubtedly the greatest part of it. In this suc- 
cession the names that stand out pre-eminent are 
those of Servatus Lupus, Walafrid Strabo, Pas- 
chasius Ratpert, Werembert, Eric of Auxerre, 
Hucbald, Remy of Auxerre and Odo of Cluny. 

The middle of the tenth century marks the 
limit of what may be styled the age of Alcuin 
in education, for at this point his direct influ- 
ence gradually disappears, and yet, amid the dev- 
astations and wars of the age that followed, there 
are indications of the continuance of schools trace- 
able to the influences of the preceding age. The 
pupils of Odo of Cluny were numerous, and the 
school of Rheims, revived by Remy and Hucbald, 
had the great Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester 
the Second, for a time as its master. The many 
pupils of Odo and Gerbert maintained almost un- 
aided the cause of education at the end of the 
tenth century. At this point the passing-on of 
learning from hand to hand becomes too obscure 
to follow, but early in the eleventh century schools 
are again discernible in the principal monasteries, 
taught by masters who could have received the 
tradition of learning only from the men of the last 
century. Meanwhile Paris was assuming more and 
more the character of a metropolis, having become 
the fixed residence of royalty. The schools near 


by, including Tours, Bee in Normandy, and Chartres, 
became more closely connected with the capital, and 
with the increase of intellectual speculation and 
controversy there came a great increase of masters 
and pupils. The time was ripe for repeating the 
prophetic experiment of Eemy. A new succession 
of teachers arose. " One of them was Drogo, who 
had as a pupil John the Deaf. John the Deaf, in 
turn, instructed Roscellinus of Chartres, and about 
Koscellinus clusters that brilliant galaxy of disci- 
ples, Peter of Cluny, Odo of Cambray, William of 
Champeaux, and Abelard.^ We are now at the 
opening of the twelfth century. Old things have 
passed away and with the opening of the Univer- 
sity of Paris the new age of scholasticism has fully 
set in. 

Eulogists of Alcuin have sought to do him the 
surpassing honor of adjudging him the true ances- 
tor of the University of Paris and thereby of the 
universities of modem Europe. The claim scarcely 
needs to be more than mentioned before it is 
refuted. Neither on the side of instruction nor of 
external organization did he entertain conceptions 
which would naturally have produced such a result, 
nor is there any evidence that, without the intel- 
lectual awakening that came to Europe under the 
name of scholasticism, the universities would have 
been founded, or, if founded, that they would have 
been capable of the development to which they 
attained. The awakening impulse came from with- 

1 Monnier, Alcuin et Charlemagne, pp. 266-268. 

178 ALCUm 

out, through the introduction of the philosophical 
works of Greek genius in Latin versions made 
from the intermediary Arabic. It was these that 
quickened the almost lifeless learning and edu- 
cation of Europe. But, admitting this without 
reserve, it yet remains true that the schools of 
the cathedrals and monasteries, the natural suc- 
cessors and heirs of Alcuin, were the centres of 
student life and of the teaching tradition. With- 
out the existence of such centres, established as 
they had been for generations, it is doubtful 
whether universities would have arisen. 

Alcuin' s work was incipient and premonitory, 
and the outcome was greater than his plan. But 
his work had first to be done before later develop- 
ments were possible. It had a distinctive life of 
its own, which seems to have been spent by the end 
of the tenth century. But there are no absolute 
breaks in human history. Therefore, when from 
the middle of the tenth century to the middle of 
the eleventh the teachers and schools that descend 
from him are nearly or wholly lost to view, let it 
not be assumed that their influence ceased. It was 
a time of great confusion and of consequent loss of 
historic records. The little learning that lingered, 
however, is not to be despised, though it glim- 
mered feebly enough in the darkness, for it was 
the only learning. When, therefore, new and 
unrevolutionary teachers appear later, whom it is 
not possible to connect by express evidence with 
the men of the century bef ore^ it is to be presumed 


that they took up and carried forward an existing 
tradition, which, though obscure to us, was plain 
to them. There was but one tradition available 
for their use, and that flowed from the schools of 
the age quickened by Alcuin. 



I. Froben's Edition is Volumes akd CI 
OF Mignb's Patrologia Latino. 

The first edition of Alcuin's collected works was 
edited by Ducliesne and printed at Paris in 1617. 
Various scattered treatises, not included in this 
edition, were afterwards discovered and printed. 
In 1777 Froben, the prince-abbat of St. Emmeran at 
Ratisbon, brought out a far more complete edition 
than had yet appeared, with an improved text and 
a vast amount of illustrative and critical matter. 
This edition of Froben, with the addition of Al- 
cuin's commentary on the Apocalypse, which was 
brought to light in 1837, is reprinted in volumes 
C and CI of Migne's Patrologia Latina, published 
at Paris in 1863. Migne's reprint contains the 
most complete collection of Alcuin's works, in- 
cluding all the chief treatises known to have been 
written by him. It is doubtful if any of his writ- 
ings remain in manuscript to be added to the list 
of works printed in Migne, beyond a few minor 
treatises and a very considerable number of letters, 
some of which have been since edited by Jaff^ and 


184 ALCUm 

Duemmler. The arrangement of Alcuin's writings 
in Migne is as follows : — 

I. Epistles, Vol. C, 135-515. 

Of the two hundred and thirty-two letters, two 
are written by Charles (Nos. lxxxi and clviii) 
and the rest are by Alcuin. Fully five-sixths of 
them are written between 796, when he went to 
Tours, and 804, — the last eight years of his life. 
They may accordingly be taken as containing his 
final opinions in regard to whatever matters they 
treat. His best literary style is also in them, the 
Latinity having as a rule both more fluency and 
propriety than in his other writings.^ Some of 
them are long and carefully composed in set form, 
containing many of his favorite epistolary flour- 
ishes or deflorationes, while others are in the light- 
est vein. The subject-matter is by turns theological, 
moral, ecclesiastical, political, didactic, and per- 
sonal and well reflects his varied activities. His 
chief correspondents were Charles the Great and 
Amo. We have over thirty of his letters to each 

1 Alcnin's style in general is far removed from pore Latinity. 
It is inferior to tliat of Einhard, the biographer of Charles, who 
had fair success in writing after as good a model as Suetonius, 
whereas nothing of Alcuin's approaches this. His faults, or 
rather the apparently ineradicable faults of his time, touch the 
elementary questions of syntax. For example, he uses the tenses 
incorrectly in subordinate sequences, joins ut in final clauses 
indifferently with the indicative or subjunctive, writes a parti- 
ciple where a finite verb is in place, and often employs the plu- 
perfect where he ought to use the perfect. Compare Monumenta 
Alcuiniana, pp. 36 and 38. 


of them. His other correspondents include the 
Pope, the patriarchs of Jerusalem and of Aquileia, 
kings in Britain, members of the imperial family 
in Frankland, archbishops, bishops, monasteries, 
and his pupils. Of all his writings, the letters 
have the highest historical value, being of capital 
importance for understanding the chief questions 
in Church and State during the latter half of the 
eighth century. 


1. Questions and Answers on Genesis, 515-569. 
This is dedicated to his pupil Sigulf. It is partly 

indebted to Jerome's Qucestiones in Genesin and to 
St. Gregory's Moralia. 

2. Enchiridion, or Brief Exposition of Certain 
Psalms, 569-639. 

These are the seven penitential Psalms, the 118th 
(our 119th) Psalm, and the fifteen "gradual" 
Psalms. It is apparently an original composition, 
and was dedicated to Arno, who had asked Alcuin 
to compose such a treatise. 

3. Commentary on the Song of Solomon, 639- 

Probably an original composition. It is dedi- 
cated to no one by name, though in the prefixed 
verses a certain juvenis, probably a pupil, is ex- 
horted to read it. At the end of it is added the 
Epistola ad Daphnin, a short commentary on the 
text in Solomon's Song, "There are threescore 
queens and fourscore concubines." 


4. Commentary on Ecclesiastes, 665-723. 

In the preface to this commentary, Alcuin says, 
"I have composed a short commentary on this book 
out of the works of the holy fathers and partly 
from the commentary of Jerome." It is dedicated 
to his pupils, Onias, Candidus, and Nathanael. 

5. Interpretations of the Hebrew Names of our 
Lord's Progenitors, 723-733. 

It is dedicated to Charles and is based on Bede's 
Homily on the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

6. Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, 733- 

Alcuin's principal exegetical work, written about 
800 and dedicated to Gisela, the sister, and Rotrud, 
the daughter, of Charles. It is based principally 
upon Augustine, Ambrose, Gregory and Bede. 

7. A Treatise on St. PauVs Epistles to Titus, Phi- 
lemon, and to the Hebrews, 1007-1083. 

There is no dedication. The comments on Titus 
and Philemon are compiled from Jerome's commen- 
taries on those epistles. The comments on Hebrews 
are also compiled from the Latin version of Chrys- 
ostom's commentary on Hebrews made by Muti- 

8. A Brief Commentary on Some Sayings of St. 
Paul, 1083-1086. 

This short note may be original in part, though 
but only in part, for Jerome on Hebrews can be 
traced in it. 

9. Commentary on the Apocalypse, 1086-1156. 
Part of the treatise appears to be lost, as the 


exposition breaks off abruptly in chapter xiL 
Possibly, however, Alcuin did not complete the 
work. It is based on Bede's Commentary on 
the Apocalypse, with supplementary use of the 
writings of Augustine, Jerome, Victorinus, Tycho- 
nius, Primasius, and Ambrose Autpert, one of 
Alcuin's contemporaries. 

III. Dogmatic Works, Vol. CI, 9-303. 

1. On the Trinity, 9-63. 

Written in Tours toward the close of Alcuin's life 
and dedicated to Charles after he had become em- 
peror. Augustine's treatise On the Holy Trinity 
is Alcuin's chief reliance. Alcuin's Twenty-Eight 
Questions on the Trinity, dedicated to his pupil 
Fridugis, are appended. 

2. On the Procession of the Holy Spirit, 63-83. 

A collection of testimonies from Scripture and 
the fathers, dedicated to Charles. 

3. Writings against Felix of Urgel and Elipandus 
of Toledo, 83-303. 

These contain an elaborate argument, based on 
the fathers, exhibiting the Catholic faith as against 
the Adoptionist heresy. They show much vigor 
and contain Alcuin's ablest work. 


1. Book of Sacraments, 445-466. 

2. On the Psalms, 465-509. 

3. Offices for the Dead, 509-611. 

4. On the Ceremonies of Baptism, 611-613L 

188 ALCUm 

These four contain the forms of worship, both 
general and special, for ecclesiastical service. They 
are excerpted and arranged from older liturgies. 

6. On the Virtues and Vices, 613-639. 

A moral treatise dedicated to Count Wido and 
taken from Augustine. 

6. On the Nature of the Soul, 639-649. 

This is also taken from Augustine, and is dedi- 
cated to Gundrada (Eulalia). 

7. On the Confession of Sins, 649-655. 

A short letter of exhortation addressed to the 
monks of St. Martin at Tours. 

V. Lives of the Saints, 655-723. 

1. The Life of St. Martin of Tours, 657-663. 

2. The Life of St. Vedast, 663-681. 

3. Life of St. Biquier, 681-690. 

4. Life of St. Willibrord, 690-723. 

VI. Poems, 723-847. 

1. Miscellaneous Poems, 723-812. 

These include prayers, inscriptions for books, 
metrical histories of the Old and New Testaments, 
inscriptions for churches and altars, hortatory 
moral verses, miscellaneous inscriptions, poems to 
different friends, epitaphs, epigrams, and riddles. 
The metres employed are almost exclusively the 
dactylic hexameter or the elegiac. They are not 
conformed to a strict regard for quantity, but are 
probably better than most of the poetry of that 
time in this respect. As poetry, they have little 
claim to admiration, though there are not wanting 


many touches of description and imagination that 
are pleasant. 

2. Poem on the Saints of the Church at York, 

This poem in heroic verse is Alcnin's history of 
the Church at York, partly based on Bede's writ- 
ings and partly on his own personal knowledge. 
It appears to have been composed shortly before he 
went to Frankland. It consists of 1657 hexameter 
verses, modeled to a considerable extent on Virgil 
and attempting a sustained dignity of style. Its 
value for the history of Alcuin's connection with 
York is, of course, very great. 

VII. Didactic Works, 847-1001. 

(For an analysis of these didactic writings see the fifth chap- 
ter of this volume.) 

1. Grammar, 847-901. 

2. Orthography, 901-919. 

3. Dialogue on Rhetoric and the Virtues, 919-949. 

4. Dialectics, 949-975. 

6. Disputation of the Royal and Most Noble Youth 
Pippin with Albinus the Scholastic, 975-979. 
6. On the Calculation of Easter, 979-1001. 

CUIN, 1001-1169. 

Two of these are of interest : 

1. The Disputation of the Boys, 1097-1143, and 

2. The Propositions of Alcuin for Wlietting the Wit 
of Youth, 1143-1161. 

IX. Spurious Works, 1173-1297. 


II. Monumenta Alcuiniana a Philippo Jq0o Pr<»- 
parata. Ediderunt WcUtenbach et Duemmler. pp. 
vi 4- 912. Berlin, 1873. 

This is the sixth volume in the Bibliotheca Rerum 
Germanicarum begun under the editorial care of 
JafEe, who died in 1870. Wattenbach and Duemm- 
ler carried on the work interrupted by Jaffe's 
untimely death. The volume they have edited 
contains the following documents : — 

1. T?ie Life of Alcuin, composed in the year 829 
by an anonymous biographer, who states that he 
was a pupil of Sigulf. It is of distinct value. 

To this the following writings of Alcuin are sub- 
joined : — 

2. Life of St. WilUbr&rd. 

3. Poem on the Saints of the Church at York. 
4 Epistles. 

The Epistles are edited by Duemmler, and the 
other three documents by Wattenbach. Their edit- 
ing is a model in every way. If only the rest of 
Alcuin could be as faithfully revised, the service 
rendered to learning would indeed be great. 

The text is thoroughly purged after a scientific 
method, variant readings are indicated so far as 
significant, and the body of interpretative matter 
and cross-references, printed at the foot of each 
page, gives abundant illustration of the bearings of 
the text. The Epistles, which are of such prime 
intrinsic importance, fill the chief part of the book. 


Their number is largely increased, so that we may 
now consult two hundred and ninety-two of Al- 
cuin's composition, besides fourteen letters written 
by others and connected with his correspondence. 
Their chronology is cleared up and other obscurities 
are fully explained for the first time. The poem 
On the Saints of the Church at York is also eluci- 
dated by useful notes, and particularly by the ref- 
erences to Bede's Ecclesiastical History printed on 
the margin. 


B.C. 384-822 Aristotle. His writings mark the highest de- 
velopment of Greek doctrine respecting edu- 
100-46 Cicero. Frequent notices of the arts of the 
Greeks, which by his time had become the 
groundwork of Eoman culture, 
116-27 Varro. His Lihri Novem DiscipUnarum, the 
thesaurus of information on the arts for 
later Latin writers, 
8-A.D. 66 Seneca, Epistle to Lucilius on liberal studies 
and other references to education. He 
draws from Varro. 
A.D. 36-96 Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria, partly on 
education. Varro his authority. 


364-430 Augustine. Wrote DiscipUnarum Libri 
shortly after his conversion. Other writ- 
ings with educational bearings are De Doc- 
trina Christiana, De Ordine, and Betrac- 
tiones. Varro is his great authority. 
Before 439 Martianus Capella's book De Nuptiis PMlo- 
logice et Mercurice. 
481-525 Boethius. Various translations and commen- 

468-669 Cassidorus. De Artibus ac Disciplinis Liber- 
alium Litterarum 
— — -636 Isidore. Compiled the Etymologice, the first 




About 650 Christian Irish learning passing into Britain. 
669 Theodore of Tarsus comes to Canterbury. 
628-690 Benedict Biscop founds Wearmouth and Yar- 
row, where was represented all the learning 
of the West. 
673-735 Bede, the pupil of Benedict Biscop. 

732 Egbert, the friend of Bede, becomes archbishop 
of York and founds the cathedral school there. 


About 735 Alcuin bom in Northumbria at or near York. 

742 Charles the Great bom, — son of Pepin, king 
of the Franks, and grandson of Charles 
Before 745 Alcuin enters the school at York, founded by 
archbishop Egbert and conducted by Albert. 

766 Egbert dies; Albert succeeds him as arch- 
bishop ; Alcuin becomes master of the school 
at York. Alcuin, in company with .^bert, 
visits Frankland and perhaps Rome also. 

771 Charles becomes sole king of the Franks. 

776 Rabanus Maums bom at Mayence. 

780 Alcuin visits Italy, meeting Charles at Pavla. 

JElbert dies. 

781 Alcuin again visits Italy to obtain from the Pope 

the pallium for his fellow-pupil, the elder 
Eanbald, who had succeeded Albert as arch- 
bishop of York. At Parma he meets Charles, 
who invites him to come and teach at his 

782 Alcuin leaves York to become master of the 

palace school at Aachen. 
787 Charles, returning home from a visit to Italy, 


brings into Frankland masters of grammar 
and arithmetic. In tlie same year he issues 
his great Capitulary promoting education. 
This is followed by other injunctions to the 
same effect in 788, 789, and as late as 802. 
790-792 Alcuin revisits Britain. 

792 Alcuin returns to Aachen to combat the disturb- 
ing heresies of Adoptionism and image-wor- 

794 Alcuin participates in the proceedings of the 
Council at Frankfort, which condemns Adop- 
tionism and image-worship. 

796 Alcuin appointed abbat of Tours. 

800 In June Charles visits Alcuin at Tours, accom- 
panied by Queen Liutgard, who dies there. 
Alcuin goes with Charles to Aachen, where 
he engages in public debate with Felix of 
Urgel, who acknowledges himself overcome 
and retracts his Adoptionist errors. 

800 On Cliristmas day in Rome Charles is crowned 
Emperor of the Holy Boman Empire by the 

802 Rabanus Maurus studies under Alcuin at Tours. 

804 On May 19th Alcuin dies and is buried at Tours. 
The chief posts of educational advantage are 
in possession of his friends or pupils. 
Theodulf is virtual minister of education to 
Charles the Great, Amo archbishop of Salz- 
burg, Riculf of Mayence, Rigbod of Treves, 
Leidrad of Lyons and Eanbald II of York. 
Fridugis succeeds Alcuin as abbat of St. Mar- 
tin at Tours, AugUbert is abbat of St. Riquier, 
Sigulf of Ferrieres, Adelhard of Corbie neai 
Amiens, St. Benedict of Aniane in Languedoc, 
and Rabanus is in charge of the school at 


814 On June 28th Charles the Great dies and is buried 
at Aachen. Lewis the Pious succeeds him. 

821 Aldrich, a pupU of Alcuin at Tours, succeeds 

Sigulf as abbat of Ferrieres. 

822 Rabanus becomes abbat of Fulda. Adelhard 

founds the monastery of New Corbie in Sax- 
ony, becoming its first abbat, and continuing 
as abbat of old Corbie also. 

842 Servatus Lupus, educated under Aldrich at Fer- 
rieres and Rabanus at Fulda, succeeds Aldrich 
as abbat of Ferrieres. 
Walafrid Strabo, pupil of Rabanus, becomes 

abbat of Reichenau. 
Rabanus retires from the rule of Fulda. 

845 John Scotus Erigena master of the palace schooL 

866 Rabanus dies near Mayence. 

865 Paschasius Ratpert, pupil of Adelhard and 
abbat of old Corbie, dies. 
By 870-880 The influence of Alcuin and Rabanus reaches 
St. Gall, being represented there by Werem- 
bert, Grimaldus, Notker and others. 

881 Death of Eric of Auxerre. He was educated at 
Fulda under Haymo, the pupil of Alcuin and 
fellow-student with Rabanus, and at Ferrieres 
under Servatus Lupus, the pupil of Aldrich. 
About 900 Remy of Auxerre, educated in company with 
Hucbald under Eric of Auxerre, opens his 
public school in Paris. 

942 Death of Odo of Cluny, who had been educated 
at Tours and later under Remy at Paris. 
About 950-1000 Education sustained almost entirely by 
pupils of Odo and Gerbert, for a while master 
of the school at Rheims revived by Remy 
9nd Hucbald. 


The following list contains a selection of books and arti» 
cles of interest on Alcuin. Those marked with an asterisk 
are especially helpful. 

Adamson : Alcuin, in Leslie Stephen's Dictionary of 
National Biography. 

Bahrdt: Alcuin der Lehrer Karls des Orossen. Lauen- 
burg, 1861. 

* Ceillier : Histoire Generale des Auteurs iSacris et Uccle- 
siastiques, Vol. XII. Paris, 1862. 

Corbet : Hagiographie du Diocese d* Amiens, Vol. I. Paris 
and Amiens, 1868. 

* Duemmler : Alcuin, in the Allgemeine Deutsche Bio- 

Dupuy : Alcuin et VJ^cole de St. Martin de Tours. Tours, 

Hamelin: Essai sur la Vie et les Ouvrages d^ Alcuin. 
Rennes, 1873. 

* Histoire Literaire de la France, Vols. IV, V, VI. Paris, 

Laforet : Alcuin 'Restaurateur des Sciences en Occident 
sous Charlemagne. Louvain, 1851. 
Lorenz : Alcuins Leben. Halle, 1829. 

* Lorenz : The Life of Alcuin, translated from the German 
by Jane Mary Slee. London, 1837. 

Meier: Ausgewahlte Schriften von Columban, Alcuin, 
U.S.V3., in Vol. Ill of the Bibliothek der katholischen Pada- 
gogik. Freiburg im Breisgau, 1890. 

* Monnier : Alcuin et Charlemagne. Paris, 1864. 



Monnier : Alcuin et son influence litteraire, religieuse, d 
politique sur les Franks. Paris, 1853. 

* Mullinger : The Schools of Charles the Great. London, 

Sickel : Alcuinstudien, in the Journal of the Vienna Acad- 
emy of Science, Vol. LXXIX, pp. 461-650. Vienna, 1876. 

* Stabbs : Alcuin, in the Dictionary of Christian Biog- 

Thery : Alcuin (L'JScole et VAcademie Palatines). Ami- 
ens, 1878. 

* Werner : Alcuin und sein Jahrhundert. Vienna, 1881. 
Rabanus Mauros : Collected Works in Migne's Patrologia 

Latina, Vols. CVH-CXIL 


Aachen, 39, 59, 00, 71, 86 $qq. 

Abelard, 177. 

Abbo, 173. 

Academy of Plato, 48. 

Adelhard, 43, 169, 170. 

Adelhard, The Younger, 170. 

Ado, 170. 

Adoptioniam, 60, 62, 68, 86. 

.fidilbert, 77. 

.Albert, 31, 32, 33, 34, 38, 67, 7S. 

" AeneodB," 85. 

AlbinuB, 36. 

Albinue (Aleuin), 44, 10«,13T. 

Aleimua, 35, 140. 

Aleuin, Birth, 31. 

" Touth, 31, 33. 

" Education at York, 81-33. 

" Vi«it» to Italy, 38, 39. 

" Maiter of Palace School, 

" Abbat of Tours, 63, 64-88. 

" Death and burial, 87, 88. 

" Writings in general, 88- 
92, 183-191. 

" Educational writingt, 92- 
116, 189. 

«• Orammar, 92-102, 189. 

•• Orthography,W2,l03,lB9. 

- Ehetoric, 104, 105, 189. 

" DiaUctiet, 106, 106, 189. 

•• Disputation qf Boys, 106, 

•• JHsputation cf P«pin, 
106-108. 180. 

AIcTiln, On the Seven ArU, lOS. 

" DeCurtuet Saltu LutuBt 
108, 189. 

" Propositions in ArithiM- 
tic, 108-112, 189. 

" Method of teaching, 45. 

•• Character, 117-123. 

" Pupili, 38, 42-47, 124-128, 

" Connections with Bab*> 
nus, 126-129. 

" Later influence, lS6-lTt. 
AlcuinuB, 35. 
Aldhelm, 34. 
Aldrich, 124, 167, 161. 
AlphabeU, 155, 169. 
St. Amand, 172, 171 
Ambrose, 34, 36, 90. 
Amiens, 124. 
Angilbert, 43, 124. 
Anglo-Saxon Church, 28, 29. 
Aniane, 125. 
AnschariuB, 170. 
Antony, 44. 

Apostolical constitntioaa. Ml 
Apuleius, 18. 
Aquila, 44. 
Arator, 35, 140. 
Architecture, 7, 21. 
Aristotle, 4, 6, 22, 28, 34, S6. 
Arithmetic, 5, 6, 7, 8 $gq. 
Arithmetical puzxlea, TL 
Arno, 43, 54, 124. 
Arsenius, 44. 
Aries Liberales, 6, 147. 
Arts (see Seven Liberal Arta). 



Art$ and DitcipUnes of Liberal 
Letters, 23. 

Astrology (tee alao Aatronomy), 
7, 16, 97. 

Astronomy, 6, 0, 8 $qq. 

Atbanasius, 34. 

Athens, 48. 

" Atom," 164. 

Aadulf, 44. 

AugrusUne, 10, 11-18, 20, 24, 34, 3«, 
46, 90, 92, 135, 138, 146, 147, 150, 
172, 173. 

Pseudo-Aagnstine On the Cate- 
gories, 37, 92, 106, 173. 

Augustine the monk of Canter- 
bury, 29. 

Auxerre, 166, 172. 

Ats, 44. 

ATars, 41. 


Barbarisms in Latin (see "Bns- 

Basil, 34. 
Baugulf , 40, 126. 
Bee, 177. 
Bede, 29, 30, 34, 36, 37, 65, 68, 72, 

86(t), 90, 92, 102, 108, 112, 119, 

150, 157. 
Beecbwood, 125. 
St. Benedict, 125. 
Benedict Biscop, 66. 
Benedictine order, 05, 126. 
Bezeleel, 44. 
Biscop, Benedict, 20, 66. 
Blidulph, 173. 
Boethius, 22, 23, 25, 27, 84, 88, 87, 

105, 141, 150. 
Boissier, 7. 
Boniface, 126, 126. 
Braulio, 26. 
Britain, 27, 28, S9. 
Bucbonia, 126. 

Calwinus, 38. 

Canterbury, 29, 30, 7T. 
Canticles, Book of, 07. 
Capella (see Martianus Capella). 
Capitulary of 787, 49-51 tqq., 126. 
Capitularies of 789, 53, 64. 
Capitulary of 802, 54. 
Carloman, 125. 
Caroline Bookt, 62. 
Caroline Minuscules, 70. 
Cassiodorus, 23, 26, 27, 34, 36, 37, 

82, 92, 108, 147. 
Categories, Treatise on the, 87, 

92, 105, 173. 
Cathedral schools, 66, 67. 
Chalcidius, 144. 
Charlemagne (see Charles the 

Great) , Preface. 
Charles Martel, 41, 86. 
Charles, son of Charles the Oreat, 

Charles the Bald, 166. 
Cliarles the Oreat, 1, 2, 28, 87, 89, 

40, 45, 46, 47 sqq., and Table of 

Chartres, 177. 
Chronicles, Book of, 79. 
Chrysostom, 34, 90, 172. 
Cicero, 6, 22, 25, 28, 34, 36, 104, 160. 
Clement, 35, 140. 
Cluny, 174, 175, 177. 
Coelfrith, 29. 
Columba, 44. 
Comminian, 35. 
Compulsory edaeation, 66b 
Computtis, 58, 154. 
Copying of books, 70-73. 
Corbie, New, 124, 165, 169, 170. 
Corbie, Old, 124, 165, 169, 170. 
Cuculus, 38. 
" Cyclic Disciplinea," 18. 

Damoetaa, 44. 
Dares, 47. 
Darid, 44, 79. Stl 



Delia, 44. 

St. Denis, 124, 170. 

De Doctrina Chrittiana, 12, 138. 

De Ordine, 16. 

X>e Nuptiia PhOologia et Mereu- 

riot, 7, 18, 19-21. 
Dialectics, 5, 6, 7, 8 $qq. 
Ditciplinarwn JAbri, 16. 
" Disciplines," Yarro's nine, 7, 8, 

Donatns, 25, 35, 30, 101, 174. 
Dositheus, 101. 
Drogo, 177. 

Banbald, The Blder, 89. 
Eanbald, The Younger, 38, 76, 78, 

Baster, Calculation of, 82, 46, 82. 
Egbert, 31, 33, 34, 37, 65. 
iyKVKktot TTaiici'a, 9, 19. 
" Bgyptian " teachings, 82. 
EigU, 130. 

Einhard, 43, 168, 184 note. 
Elipandus of Toledo, 60. 
EUwangen, 169. 
Encycliut diaciplina, 19. 
Bntellus, 47, 83. 
Episcopal schools, 67. 
Eric of Auxerre, 172, 173, 176. 
Brigena, 132, 141, 142, 144, 166, 167. 
Brmenric, 169, 171. 
Bthelbert (see .<£lbert). 
Ethelred, 60. 

Btymologies of Isidore, 20, 160. 
Euboric, 32, 67. 
Euclid, 25. 
BulaUa, 44, 47. 
Butychius, 36. 
Sxtemi, 171. 


" Father of the Vineyards," 78. 

Felix of Ui^el, 60, 86. 

Ferrieres, 124, 125, 165, 167, 170, 

** Fiforea " of Onunmar, 100. 

Finger-reckoning, 160 $qq. 

Flaccus, 83, 86. 

FlaccuB Albinus, 44. 

Flenry, 173, 175. 

Flogging, 76. 

Fortunatus, 35, 140. 

Frankfort, Council of, 00. 

Fridugls, 38, 42, 58, 87, 126. 

Frodoard, 173. 

Fronto, 28. 

Fulco, 173. 

Fulda, 49, 03, 04, 126, 128, ISO, 106, 

167, 168, 169, 170, 172. 
Fulgentius, 84. 


St. OaU, 166, 171, 172. 

Gallic schools, 28, 30, 41. 

Geography, 33. 

Geometry, 5, 6, 7, 8 aqq. 

Gerbert, 176. 

Gerhoch, 129. 

St. Germain, 172, 173. 

Gisela, daughter of Charles, 43, 44. 

Gisela, sister of Charles, 43, 44, 90. 

Glossary, 164. 

Gorz, 176. 

Gotteschalk, 133. 

Grammar, 5, 6, 7, 8 8qq. 

Gratuitous education, 55, 56, 68, 60. 

Greek in Alcuin's writings, 90. 

Greek studies, 28, 29. 

Gregory the Great, 11, 29, 34, 80, 

Orimaldus, 171. 
Gundrada, 43, 44. 

Hadrian, Pope, 42, 6L 
HalbersUdt, 127, 108. 
Hamburg, 170. 
Harmot, 171. 
Hatto, 127, ISl. 
Haymo, 127, 168, Vi. 
Hiptat, 20. 



Hilary, S4. 
Hildebold, 178. 
HUdeman, 170. 
Hilduin, 170. 
Hincmar, 107. 
Hirichau, 169. 
Homer, 44. 

Homilary of Charlec, 64. 
Huebald, 172, 173. 170. 

Image-worship, 61, OS. 

Imperial schooU, 1, 9. 

Inttitutet of Sacred Letteri, 2S. 

InstUutio Oratorio, 9. 

Ireland, 27. 

Irene, 61. 

TxUb learning, 77, 82, 121, 185. 

iMiah, 67, 68. 

Isidore, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 36, 37, 68, 

82, 92, 101, 104, 106, 150, 156, 157, 


Jerome, 34, 36, 4«, 84, 166, 166, 167, 

John the Deaf, 177. 
Jonathan, 80. 
Joseph, 38. 
Josephns, 142. 
St. Julian of Tours, 176. 
Julias, 44. 
Jnrispmdenee, 32. 
JnveacQS, 34, 140. 

LactantiuB, 10, 36, 157. 
Langnedoe, 136. 
Leidrad, 54, 124. 
Leo, 34, 85, 86. 
Lerins, 28, 20. 
" LeTite," 34. 

Lewis the Plvu, 43, 86, 166, 

Liberal Arts (see BeTen Liberal 

LQfer Homo, 6. 
Library at Fulda, 129, 130. 
Library at Tours, 67, 68, 1S9. 
Library at York, 34-36, 67. 
LU>ri CaroUni, 62. 
Libri Novem Ditciplitiarttin, 6, 7. 
Lindisfame, 62. 
Liudger, 38. 
Lintgard, 42. 43, 88, 88. 
Liutpert, 169. 
Lombards, 42. 
Lorraine, 173. 
Lorscb, 127. 
Lucan, 35, 36. 
Lullns the Jew, 39. 
Lunar epact, 154. 
Lupus Serratoa (see Serratna La- 

Lyons, 124. 


MaehariuB, 44. 

Magenfrid, 44. 

Maginhard, 109. 

Marcomanni, 156. 

Martianus Capella, 7, 17, 18-22, 25^ 

28, 30, 37, 82, 142, 167, 174. 
St. Martin of Tours, 63, 64, 87, 88, 

St. Maur, 127. 

Maums (see Rabanus Maoma). 
Mayence, 124, 125, 126, 131. 
Medicine, 7, 8, 21. 
Medieval periods, 1, 2. ] 
Menalcas, 45. 
Mercia, 59. 

Mercury and Philology, 19. 
Merovingians, 41, 70. 
Metz, 172, 175. 
Mllo, 172, 173. 
Monastic schools, 58, 67. 
Monte Casaino, 126. 
Mlinster, 38. 
Moaic, 6, 6, 7, 8 $qq. 



KathanMl. 44. 

Vice, Conncil of, 61, 03. 

Nicomachua, 25, 101. 

Northambrid, 21, 58, M, M, 66, T7. 

Notce Caiarii, 166. 

Notkcr, 101, in, 173. 

mioH, 57, 170. 

Odo of BeauTkia, 170. 

Odo of Cambray, 177. 

Odo of Clany, 174, 17«. 

Ofia, 59, 60. T4, 76. 


Orleans, 80, 86, 124. 

Oroiiua, 34. 

Ostentum, 154. 

Oaolf, 38. 

Otf riad 9t WaiiMntait, ia0» 171. 

Palace School, 41 sqq., 166. 

" Paradigmatic " writing, 81. 

" Fkraphraatical " writing. SL 

Paria, 86, 166, 173, 176, 176. 

Pari!, University of, 174, 177. 

Pariah achoola, 66, 56, 67. 

Puna, 39. 

Parta of Grammar, 100. 

Paachaaioa Ratpert, 160, 178. 

St. Patrick, 28. 

Paolinna, 35, 140. 

PauUnoa of Aqnileia, 64. 

Paria, 39. 

Pepin, aoQ of Charlaa tbe GtmM, 

Perfect numbers, 24, 143, 144. 
Periods in Middle Ages, 1, i. 
Peter of Cluny, 177. 
Peter of Piaa, 39. 
Petertberg, 181, 16C. 
Philoaophy a Uberal ut, 6. 16, IT. 


Phoeaa, 36. 

Pindar, 44. 

Plato. 142, 143, 144, 147. 

Platonic disciplines, 48. 

Platonic philoeophcra, 14f. 

Plautus, 28. 

Play at school, 76. 

Poetry, 46. 

" Point," 154. 

Pompeiaa the grammarian, H^ |^ 

Pompeiua Trogna, 34. 

Porphyry, 22. 

Proeparamettta, 149. 

Primary education, 68. 

Priacian, 35, 36, 101, 16», 111; VL 

ProbuB, S6. 

"Prodigal Son," S8,lUw 

Proaper, 36. 

Prum, 172. 

Pttudodoetom, It. 

Pythagoras, 146. 

Quadrivium, 22, 28, J 
QnintiUan, 8, », 10. 

Babanna Haonu, lt6-164, 166, W, 
160, 170. 
•• «• Sdncational 

writings, lai 

Baganhard, 88. 
Batbert, 171. 
Ratgar, IM, UT. 

Ratpert (aee PaaehMtoa lU^Wt). 
Batranmoa, 170. 
Regino. 172. 

Reichenaa, 166, 168, ITL 
Rembert, 170. 
Remy of Auxerra, 172, ITS, IM, 

176, 176, 177. 
Retractationa, 16. 
Rbeima, 166, 178. 176, 176. 
Bhatorie, 6, 6, 7, 8 agg. 



Bienlf , 4S. 54, 134. 
Bigbod, 86, U4. 
Bt. Biqnier, Ui. 
BlUcbl. 7. 16. 
Robert of Mets, ITI. 
BoMellinua, 177. 
Botrud, 43, 90. 
Bndolpb. 126, 180, lOB. 


8aitU$ of the Chunk at Tork, tl, 

18», 190. 
Balzbnrg, 68, 124. 
Bftmnel, 127, 128 note, 129. 
Sapieniia, 70. 
Saracens, 41, 42, 81. 
Saiura, 19. 
Satura Doctor, 26. 
Baxona, 41. 

BcboIaaticUm, 132, ITT. 
Schokuticut, S4, TOL 
Bebool at Tork, 76. 
ScoteUut, 82. 
Scriptorlnm, 70, 72, TS. 
Scriptorea, 134, 137, 188. 
Secondary education, 68. 
Sednlioa, 34, 140. 
SeligentUdt, 168. 
Seneca, 8, 9, 10. 
Sena, 124, 167. 
Servatus Lnpna, 130, 167, 168, 170, 

172, 176. 
Servina, 36. 
Seven Liberal Art*, 4-87, 82, 87, 

48, 97, 139, 146, 147. 
•' BeTen Pillara " of X^adoni, 24, 

" Seven WaterpoU," 80. 
Signlf, 88, 42, 86, 124. 
Solomon, 44, 47. 
Sopbiatical reasoning, lOt, 
Borek, 80. 
State education, U, 
§t«tlTli, 86|8A> 

Stnrm, 126. 
Sylvester II, ITfll 
Bymeon, 38. 


Terence, 160. 
Tertnllian, 10, 14, 16. 
Theodore of Tarans, 29, 86. 
Theodulf , 42, 43, 64, 66, 67, 68, n, 

79, 80, 81, 121, 124. 
Theology, 46. 
Tbyrsis, 45. 
Timcetu of Plato, 144. 
Tobias, Book of, 86. 
Toors, 63, 64, 66, 67, 68, 70, 71, T2, 

74, 77, 78, 80, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88, 

102, 114, 124, 126. 126, 127, 128, 

Treves, 85, 124. 
TritbemiuB, 149. 
Trivium, 23, 26, 106. 
Tudesque, 103, 164, IM, liC 
Tnronie City, 67. 

UniTtnal primary adncatioiit Hk 

Varro, 6, T. 8, It, IT, 19, «. ttk n» 

Vetolns, 44. 
VictorinoB, 34. 
Vienne, 170. 

VUlage schools, 66, 66, 8T, it. 
" Vineyards," 78, 79. 
VirgU, 28, 36, 86, 46, 84, 86, 1T4 

Wala, 43. 

Walafrid Strabo, 180, 164, 168, 160^ 

171, 176. 
\KrBldramn, 38. 



Wario, ITO. 
WearmoQtb, 29. 
Werembert, 170, 171, ITflL 
Wido, 116. 

William of Champeanx, 177. 
" Wine-cellara," 79, 80. 
WiUo, 38, 42, 68. 

Yarrow, 29. 

York, 31-38. 58, 59, SO, M, 67, M, 
74, 76, 76, 87, 124, 186. 


Zabdi, 79, 80. 
ZacbaJriaa, Pope, Uiu 

On Great Educators nm\u m^m^ Bvmr 

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The history of great educators is, from an important point of view, the 
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yet comprehensive accounts of the leading movement in educational 
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** Adminibly conceived in a truly philosophic spirit and executed witb unutoal 
(ridU. It is rare to find books on pedagogy at once so instructive and so interest- 
iof. ... I hope to read them ail, which is more than I can say oi any other 
series. " — Wiluam Preston Johnston, Julane University. 

' ' The Scribners are rendering an important service to the cause of educa- 
tion in the production of the ' Great Educators Series. ' ' ' — Journal of Education. 

' ' We have not too many series devoted to the history and the theory of edu- 
cation, and the one represented at the present moment by the two volumes before 
ns promises to take tux important place— a leading place— amongst the few we 
have." — London EduccUumal Times. 


The whole of ancient pedagogy is Professor Davidson's subject, the 
course of education being traced up to Aristotle, — an account of whose 
life and system forms, of course, the main portion of the book, — and 
down from that great teacher, as well as philosopher, through the decline 
of ancient civilization. An appendix discusses ' ' The Seven Liberal Arts, " 
and paves the way for the next work in chronological sequence, — Professor 
West's, on Alcuin. The close relations between Greek education and 
Greek social and political life are kept constantly in view by Professor 
Davidson. A special and very attractive feature of the work is the cita- 
tion, chiefly in English translation, of passages from original sources 
expressing the spirit of the different theories described. 

' ' I am very glad to see this excellent contribution to the history of educa> I 
tion. Professor Davidson's work is admirable. His topic is one of the most 
profitable in the entire history of culture. "—W. T. Harris, U. S. Commissiontr 
of Education. 

' ' ' Aristotle ' is delightful reading. I know nothing in English that covers 
the field of Greek Education so well. Tou will find it very hard to maintijn 
this level in the later works of the series, but I can wish you nothing better 
than that you may do so. ' ' — G. Stanley Hall, Clark University. 


Professor West aims to develop the story of educational institntloni 
in Europe from the beginning of the influence of Qiristianity on education 
to the origin of the Universities and the first beginnings of the modem 
movement. A careful analysis is made of the effects of Greek and 
Roman thought on the educational theory and practice of the early 
Christian, and their great system of schools, and its results are studied 
with care and in detail. The personality of Alcuin enters largely into the 
story, because of his dominating influence in the movemenL 

"Die von Ihnen mir freundlichst zugeschickte Schrift des Herm Professor 
West uber Alcuin habe ich mit lebhaftem Interesse gelesen und bin ilberrascht 
davon in Word America eine so eingehende Beschaltigung mit unserer Vorzeit 
und eine so ausgebreitete Kenntniss der Literature iiber diesen Gegenstand zu 
finden. Es sind mir wohl Einzelbeiten begegnet ein denen ich etwas auszu- 
setzenfand, die ganze Auffassung und Darstellung aber kaim ich nur als sehr 
wohl gelungen und zutreffend bezeichnen." — Professor Wattenbach, Berlin. 

' ' I take pleasure in saying that ' Alcuin ' seems to me to combine carefult 
■cholarly investigation with popularity, and condensation with interest or M* 
till, in a truly admirable way. "— Proussor G. T. Laod, qf VaU. 



M. Compayre, the well-known French educationist, has prepared in this 
volume an account of the origin of the great European Universities 
that is at once the most scientific and the most interesting in the English 
language. Naturally the University of Paris is the central figure in the 
account ; and the details of its early organization and influence are fully 
given. Its connection with the other great universities of the Middle 
Ages and with modern university movement is clearly pointed out. 
Abelard, whose system of teaching and disputation was one of the earliest 
signs of the rising universities, is the typical figure of the movement; and 
M. Compayre has given a sketch of his character and work, from an 
entirely new point of view, that is most instructive. 

" 'Abelard' may fairly be called the founder of university education in 
Sarope. and we have in this volume a description of his work and a careful 
analysis of his character. As the founder of the great Paris University in the 
thirteenth century the importance of his work can hardly be overestimated. 
The chapter devoted to Abelard himself is an intensely interesting one, and the 
other chapters are of marked value, devoted as they are to the origin and early 
history of universities. . . . The volume is a notable educational work. "— 
Button Daily Travtltr. 


This work is a critical and authoritative statement of the educational 
principles and method adopted in the Society of Jesus, of which the 
author is a distinguished member. The first part is a sketch, biograph- 
ical and historical, of the dominant and directing personality of Ignatius, 
the Founder of the order, and his comrades, and of the establishment and 
early administrations of the Society. In the second an elaborate analysis 
of the system of studies is given, beginning with an account of Aquaviva 
and the Ratio Studiorum, and considering, under the general heading of 
"the formation of the master," courses of literature and philosophy, of 
divinity and allied sciences, repetition, disputation, and dictation; and 
nnder that of "formation of the scholar," symmetrj' of the courses pur- 
sued, the prelection, classic literatures, school management and control, 
<jxaminations and graduation, grades and courses. 

" This volume on St. Ignatius of ' Loyola and the Educational System of the 
Jesuits,' by the Rev. Thomas Hughes, will probably be welcomed bv others be- 
sides those specially interested in the theories and methods of education. 
Written by a member of the Jesuit Society, it comes to us with author!^, and 

S resents a complete iuid well - arranged survey of the work of educational 
evelopment canted oat by Ignatius and his followers." —i^M<iim SaiunUty 


Friedrich Froebel stands for the movement known both in Eturope 
and in this country as the New Education, more completely than any 
other single name. The kindergarten movement, and the whole de- 
velopment of modern methods of teaching, have been largely stimulated 
by, if not entirely based upon, his philosophical exposition of education. 
It is not believed that any other account of Froebel and his work is so 
complete and exhaustive, as the author has for many years been a student 
of Froebel's principles and methods not only in books, but also in actual 
practice in the kindergarten Mr. Bowen is a frequent examiner of kin- 


^ergartens, of the children in them, and of students who are trained to lit 

kindergarten teachers. 

' ' No one, in England or America, is fitted to give a more sympathetic or lucid 
Interpretation oi Froebel than Mr. Courthope Bo wen. ... Mr. Bowen's book 
will be a most important addition to any library, and no student of Froebel eas 
afford to do witbooc it. ' ' — Kate Douglas Wiggin, New York City. 


In this book. President De Garmo has given, for the first time in the 
English language, a systematic analysis of the Herbartian theory of ed- 
ucation, which is now so much studied and discussed in Great Britain 
and the United States, as well as in Germany. Not only does the 
volume contain an exposition of the theory as expounded by Herbart 
himself, but it traces in detail the development of that theory and the 
additions to it made by such distinguished names as Ziller, Story, Frick, 
Rein, and the American School of Herbartians. Especially valuable will 
be found Dr. De Garmo's careful and systematic exposition of the prob- 
lems that centre around the concentration and correlation of studies. 
These problems are generally acknowledged to be the most pressing and 
important at present before the teachers of the country. 

' ' Some one has said there can be no great need without the means of supply- 
ing such need, and no sooner did the fraternity realize its need of a knowledge 
of the essentials of Herbart than Dr. De Garmo's excellent work on ' Herbart and 
the Herbartians,' by Scribner's Sons of New York, appeared, a book which, 
costing but a dollar, gives all that the teacher really needs, and gives it with 
devout loyalty and sensible discrimination. It is the work of a believer, a de- 
votee, an enthusiast, but it is the masterpiece of the writer who has not for- 
gotten what he owes to his reputation as a scholar in his devotion to liia 
master." — Journal of Education. 


No book heretofore published concerning one or both of the Arnolds 
has accomplished the task performed in the present instance by Sir 
Joshua Fitch. A long-time colleague of Matthew Arnold in the British 
Educational Department, the author — leaving biography aside — has, with 
nnusual skill, written a succinct and fascinating account of the important 
services rendered to the educational interests of Great Britain by the 
Master of Rugby and his famous son. The varied and successful efforts 
of the latter in behalf of a better secondary education during his long 
official career of thirty-five years as Inspector of Training Schools, no 
less than the notable effect produced at Rugby by the inspiring example 
of Thomas Arnold's high-minded character and enthusiastic scholarship, 
are admirably presented. Whatever in the teaching of both seems likely 
to prove of permanent value has been judiciously selected by the author 
from the mass of their writings, and incorporated in the present volume. 
The American educational public, which cannot fail to acknowledge a 
lasting debt of gratitude to the Arnolds, father and son, will certainly wel- 
come this sympathetic exposition of their influence and opinions. 

" The book is opportune, for the Amoldian tradition, though widely ditfose' 
in America, is not well based on accurate knowledge and is pretty muchiA 
the air. Dr. Fitch seems the fittest person by reason of his spiritual sympathy 
with the father and his personal association with the son, to sketch in this brief 
way the two most typical modem English educators. And he has done his work 
almost ideally well within his limitations of purpose. . . . The two anas 
llffa in these oases as thecvwere. ' '—Educational Rtvina. New York. 


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